Picking the Right Lawyer
As I started in part 7 I was royally screwed by two lawyers before I finally found the right one. With that in mind, I thought I would pass on a few things I learned along the way.
First, read reviews! Lawyers aren’t a product but they are providing a service. While they don’t have to be the friendliest people, sometimes it’s better if they aren’t, they do have to win cases. Reviews will tell you that. Do not trust the reviews on their website. Go to Reddit and google reviews people are pretty honest when they hide behind a computer and user name. There will always be a few unhappy people, however, there is probably a grain of truth somewhere in their story. The bulk of the reviews is your most reliable source. If you have 10 that say average 2 that say wonderful and 1 the worst ever, he’s probably an average lawyer. I will warn you finding online reviews for lawyers isn’t always the easiest thing.
What do you do if you can’t find reviews on lawyers or none of them meet your needs? Ask for recommendations. Ask friends family members even a FB post can be a good source for a starting point. If people liked their lawyer they will recommend them. Don’t be afraid to ask what they did that was so great. I would gush on mine all day long. I could also give you a mile-long list of those I hated.
Once you found a few lawyers you like, meet with them. Many lawyers don’t have initial consultation fees. If they do and you’re interested it’s always in your best interest to meet first before paying a retainer. A court case is going to cost thousands of dollars don’t wander in blindly over $150. In the long run, it could be the best money you ever spent.
Don’t go into the meeting emotional. Stay calm and lay out the facts. Make a cheat sheet if you have to. Don’t accuse your spouse or ex of anything. Stick to the facts. Why? Because you want a lawyer that’s on your side. One that can see the BS that your once partner pulls just like you do. You want one to believe you and not brush you off as some emotional mess. Or worse one that looks at you and says easy money and racks up a bill.
After you layout, your facts ask lots of questions. You want to know how they would handle the case. Does it line up with what you were thinking? Did the lawyer give you a wake-up call or are they simply being lazy? If your way forward doesn’t line up will the lawyer do what you want anyway even if they advise against it? What are the lawyers preferred communication methods and timelines for returning calls/messages?
How much of your case will be handled by a different attorney or paralegal? While this can save you money it also means the lawyer you hired isn’t always as hands on as you may want them to be. In some cases they use it to pad their bill as well. I had a lawyer charge me for the paralegal to read my email then him and communication between the two about the email. That’s $45 for one email. There are other questions I’m sure I missed but I hope this gives you an idea of what to ask.
Be straightforward with your expectations. If the lawyer thinks it’s reasonable or obtainable they will tell you. If you hear hesitation or a long explanation of legal battles be hesitant. Compare it to what the other lawyers said. If one promises the moon and 3 others said it was unlikely the outlyer is either the best attorney in the world or thinks your a sucker.
Lastly, make sure your personalities mesh. Like I said before your lawyer doesn’t have to be the friendliest person in the world. My attorney said some people call her a b#$& but she was great. I loved her. I could be honest with her about my kids and my ex. She was tough though and told me things I didn’t want to hear. No matter what she was on my side and willing to do what I thought was best for my kids. After all, I lived with my ex for nearly 20 years. I knew him better than almost anyone. She trusted my judgment when it came to him and I trusted her legal judgment.