Issues to Consider When Selecting an Orange County Divorce Lawyer
If you are looking for an Orange County divorce lawyer, you may ask a lawyer or a friend for a referral. If you don’t have a good source for a referral or you do not want to disclose your desire to seek information about a divorce to others, you may perform divorce lawyer research on the internet, which can be difficult for many reasons. In fact, it can be difficult to find the “right” divorce lawyer even if you have a referral from a lawyer or a friend.
In your search to find the “right” Orange County divorce lawyer, you may want to consider the following:
- Does the firm have lawyers who are Fellows in the American Academy Of Matrimonial Lawyers?
- Does the firm have lawyers who are Fellows in the American College Of Trial Lawyers?
- Is the lawyer a sole practitioner or in a firm?
- Does the lawyer or the firm have the bandwidth to handle your case?
- Does the firm operate as a group of solo lawyers or does it have a formal collaboration model that allows the clients to benefit from the experience of the other divorce lawyers?
- Does the firm limit its cases to matters filed in Orange County? Or does the firm spread its resources into other counties?
- How long has the firm actually been in business handling family law matters? (This is a different question than how many years has a lawyer practiced law in other practice areas)
- How many combined years have the firm’s lawyers’ actually handled family law matters? Handling civil matters, personal injury or criminal matters for 25 years and family law for five years is a very different experience level than having practiced exclusively in family law for 30 years.
- Is the lawyer active in the legal community, its various committees, and bar affiliated groups? Is he or she always up to date on the recent happenings at the courthouse and in the courtrooms?
- Are the accolades and award badges on the lawyer’s website legitimate or bogus ‘bought and paid for’ promotional pieces?
- Are the website reviews legitimate?
- What does the lawyer represent his or her experience to be in the area of family law that is most important to you?
- Does the lawyer truly have significant experience with the particular issues involved in your matter?
How Do I Select The “Right” Orange County Divorce Lawyer?
Selecting the “right” Orange County divorce lawyer is critical to the results of your case and your satisfaction. Making the wrong choice may result in significant damage to your case and you being forced to change lawyers in the middle of your divorce. This may be an expensive event in terms of incurring additional attorney fees and more importantly errors in the handling of your case. We have set forth some of the issues that you may want to consider in selecting your Orange County divorce lawyer. Retaining the ‘right’ lawyer the first time is extremely important and you should take the time to do a thorough investigation. Do not blindly take someone’s word on which lawyer to retain.
How Strong Is The Referral?
An introduction to an Orange County divorce attorney is only as helpful and valuable as the source of the referral. Does the introducing party actually know the divorce attorney or know of the lawyer’s skill level? What did the person base the referral upon? Is the referral simply a referral to a friend, classmate or to someone as a payback for a past referral? Is the introduction given in exchange for a referral fee?
When a referral is made to a divorce lawyer, the referring person often says words along the line of ‘the divorce attorney is one of the best.’ There are at least 500 lawyers in Orange County practicing family law and they all received referrals. How can they all be among the best? 500 best divorce lawyers out of 500?
Even if the referring person thinks the lawyer is one of the best or at least a good lawyer, what do they base that opinion on? Clients often don’t know whether their case was well handled. They often don’t know if the result was good, bad or in between. Referrals are often made based on the likeability of the lawyer. It is nice to like your lawyer but you are not looking for a new best friend. You are looking for a professional who can do the job that they are being retained to do.
Are the Divorce Lawyer’s Internet Reviews Credible?
Are internet reviews a credible way to select an Orange County divorce lawyer?
Reviews are certainly relevant but carefully analyze the reviews for credibility. Consider how long the lawyer or firm has actually existed. Often websites will include years when a lawyer was employed by another firm or even the state as years ‘in business.’ Consider how likely it is that a relatively new firm has significantly more reviews than a firm that has far more lawyers and has been in business for decades longer.
Awards And Accolades
Do not be impressed with awards or badges on lawyers’ websites when selecting your Orange County divorce lawyer unless you have specific knowledge about the award or the entity granting it. Be wary of accolades and awards. Many of the badges that lawyers post on their websites are simply bought and paid for. There are no policing or licensing requirements restricting a person from selling memberships in groups that designate lawyers as ‘top lawyers,’ ‘top 20 lawyers,’ ‘best law firm,’ etc.
There are a number of very impressive sounding awards that are available for an annual fee of $350. At one point, five lawyers in our firm all received letters notifying us that we had all been selected as members of a ‘select prestigious’ national group of top lawyers. In the materials, we were told that upon receipt of the $350 we would receive a badge for use on our website. We declined the “award.”
Does it Matter if a Lawyer Also Practices in Other Counties?
It has been our belief for decades that it is in a client’s best interest to be represented in an Orange County divorce by an Orange County divorce lawyer and not by an out-of-county divorce lawyer, even if that lawyer agrees to work with and co-counsel with an Orange County divorce lawyer. Having two separate firms represent a client can be significantly more costly, increase the chances for the mix-ups and confusions between the firms, result in conflicts in strategy and may cause other significant problems
We don’t accept cases filed in other counties. We believe that we better serve our clients by focusing all of our resources on Orange County family law matters and not by spreading them throughout Southern California. We believe that by being focused on the Orange County procedures, nuances, local practices and the local rules of each of our Orange County judges we better represent our clients. We want to know our judges and we want them to know us.
Does it Matter if a Lawyer Practices Family Law in Addition to Other Areas of the Law?
We believe that the more specialized a lawyer is, the higher quality his or her lawyering will be. We believe that limiting our practice to family law and further limiting it to matters filed in Orange County, gives us a significant advantage. How can a lawyer who handles cases in multiple counties and/or who handles cases in different practice areas of the law provide the same quality of lawyering as can a lawyer who is targeted and specialized?