Selecting a Divorce Lawyer

Men and women looking for a divorce lawyer often seek referrals from professionals or friends. If an individual does not have a credible source for a referral or does not want to disclose their desire to seek information about a divorce, they may perform their own research on the internet.  It can be problematic to find the right divorce lawyer using the internet. In fact, it can be problematic finding the right divorce lawyer even if the selection is referral based.

Selecting the right divorce lawyer is extremely critical. You should avoid making the wrong choice and being forced to switch divorce lawyers in the middle of your case. Divorce lawyers are as different as are clients. No one divorce lawyer is right for every client. Below are some issues that you may want to consider in selecting your divorce lawyer.

Divorce Lawyer vs. Divorce Law Firm

Another issue to consider is what benefit there may be to retaining a firm as opposed to a sole practitioner.  Does a firm bring added value to the representation?  Do the resources of a firm increase the opportunity for a better result?  Can a lawyer practicing alone or with one other lawyer provide the depth of experience necessary to compete?  If a client retains a sole practitioner or a small firm, what happens to the case when the divorce lawyer is on vacation, ill or involved in a long trial?  With 15 divorce lawyers we have the depth necessary to immediately address any emergencies.  The progress of your case does not stop just because your divorce lawyer has other matters to address.  Retaining a lawyer in our firm brings with it the experience of 15 divorce lawyers with varied backgrounds and experiences.  These experiences were accumulated in excess of over 200 lawyer years.  We leverage this experience for our clients benefit by holding multiple brainstorming meetings weekly where the firm's divorce lawyers collaborate and share thoughts about our client's cases.  These meetings focus on strategies, cost-benefit analysis and the law.  The meetings take place Mondays at 5:00 p.m. and during mid-week lunches.

We discuss the issues, the opposing divorce attorney involved in the case and the judge assigned to the case.  Our institutional knowledge of Orange County family law, the judges and the other family law attorneys, make these meetings invaluable to our clients and the result.

The meetings are even more valuable to our clients considering that our divorce lawyers are thoroughly educated in the most recent developments in family law.  We have spent of $100,000 annually for over a decade, making certain that we stay on the cutting edge of all of the latest developments.


Selecting a Divorce Lawyer

Infographic - Selecting a Divorce Lawyer
  • It is important to know which attorney in a firm will actually represent you if your matter requires a hearing or trial.
  • It may make economic sense in some situations to retain a lawyer for a specific part of a case as opposed to the entire matter. This procedure is referred to as "unbundling" or "limited scope representation."
  • Some men and women may prefer to be represented specifically by a male or female lawyer.
  • If your matter is a high net worth matter, involves complex issues or involves the ownership of a business, does the lawyer have relevant experience in these areas?  Has he/she actually tried these type of cases in a trial?

Preparing For The Initial Conference

Part of the process in retaining a divorce attorney is preparing for the initial conference.  Consult and study our Initial Consultation outline before the initial conference.  Our outline will maximize the cost-effectiveness, efficiency and value of your initial conference.  Often the initial meeting is one of the most important meetings. You will be hearing things that will impact very important decisions in your life.

If a divorce lawyer is found through a referral, it is important to analyze the basis and details of the referral.  Some attorneys refer to other attorneys who pay a referral fee.  Other attorneys make referrals based on an express or implied agreement for cross-referrals.  Some referrals are made to best friends as opposed to the best divorce lawyer for the particular case.  It is important to ask the referring person why a particular divorce attorney is being referred.  Generally, the response is that they are referring the attorney because he or she is one of the best.  How can all of the divorce lawyers who receive referrals be among the best?  Some independent research should be completed after receiving the referral before setting an appointment.

Referrals

One of the main ways a client locates a divorce lawyer is through a referral from a friend, co-workers or another lawyer.  When receiving the name of a divorce lawyer, the client should inquire as to why the particular divorce lawyer is being recommended.  Referrals are made for many different reasons.  Often the referring person says that the divorce lawyer is one of the best.  In that most divorce lawyers receive their clients through referrals, it cannot logically follow that all divorce lawyers are among the best.  Care should be given in accepting and following through with a referral.  All divorce lawyers are not created equal.  Often, the referral is made, even by another lawyer, based solely on the fact that the person has heard the divorce lawyer's name or the fact that the divorce lawyer represented someone he or she knew.  If the referral is based upon the divorce lawyer being a nice person, should focus on the fact that you are hiring a divorce lawyer who can do the job.  You are not looking for a new best friend.

Reviews

There are many companies that allow the public to rate lawyers, doctors, dentists, judges and almost every type of business.  While reviews can be helpful, they should be carefully analyzed.  Some reviewers are not the divorce lawyer's own clients - they are the other side of a case, posing as a client.  Some firms pay for reviews.  Reviews can be helpful but they should be carefully analyzed for motive.

Office Location

Does it matter where your divorce attorney's office is located?  It should not.  Of course, an excellent family law attorney may be located in a small town, in a second or third class building with an office shabbily decorated.  One should certainly not retain a divorce lawyer because he has a nice office.  Simply being located in a nice building in an upscale city does not make one a good divorce lawyer.  That said, don't better family law attorneys locate their offices in nicer buildings in nicer geographic areas?  Is it fair to say that a divorce lawyer who expends time, effort and resources on his/her office might be more likely to spend more time and attention on your case?  Is it logical to conclude that a professional who pays more attention to detail in one area of life may do the same in other areas of life?  Likewise, the selection of a divorce attorney is extremely important and the choice should not be made based upon how close a divorce lawyer's office is to a client's home or work.  A client will generally not be required to visit with the divorce lawyer a large number of time in person.  Driving a few additional miles to the "right" divorce lawyer's office is time well spent.  Suffice it to say, do not select a family law attorney based on his/her address, his/her self-representation or his/her website - look at the entire package.  Additionally, don't find a divorce lawyer based upon the proximity of his/her office to your home or office.  Hire the right divorce lawyer for your case regardless of the location of his/her office.  A few extra miles may make a significant difference in the quality of a divorce lawyer.  You will find that you will most likely not personally meet your divorce lawyer often.

Awards and Accolades

All awards and accolades are not equal in integrity and importance and should not be given equal weight.  It can be difficult to research the integrity of some award granting entities.  There are many accolades that are actually available for purchase.  Some impressive sounding awards may be purchased for as little as $350 per year.  At one point five divorce lawyers in our firm received letters from an organization notifying each of us that we had been selected to be members of a select prestigious group of lawyers.  In the materials, we were asked to mail the organization a check as a membership fee.  We declined the offer.

Orange County Divorce Lawyers

It is our belief that it is in a client's best interest to be represented by an Orange County divorce lawyer, not by an out of county divorce lawyer, even if that lawyer co-counsels with an Orange County divorce lawyer.  Having two separate firms represent a client is more costly, increases the chances for mix ups between the firms, may create conflicts in strategy and other significant problems.