Hiring a family lawyer isn’t exactly something that individuals plan or even think about in advance. Often, people only think of being involved with the justice system when facing serious issues or family affairs that end up in court. During these uncertain times, one will need the assistance of a family lawyer to give them legal advice and guide them through the whole complicated process.
But before you contact the first lawyer you see on the internet, be aware that choosing a family lawyer is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Remember, this family lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome you wish to achieve from your case, whether it’s adoption, divorce, child custody, and other family matters.
Below are the steps to finding the best family lawyer for your unique needs.
1. Evaluate Their Experience And Credentials
It’s no question that family law is a complex field. It’d take years of study and experience for a lawyer to fully grasp this expertise and be capable of handling different and unique legal family cases. Thus, you must find a family lawyer with the appropriate credentials and enough years of experience to take on your case.
To check their backgrounds, go to their business website or click here and see if their experience and credentials, along with their offered services, match your expectations. That way, you’ll know more about your lawyer and their knowledge of your case. Here are some guide questions you can use when checking their backgrounds or if you want to have a virtual or in-person interview with them:
- How many cases have you handled or represented in the past similar to mine?
- How long have you been practicing family law?
- Can you provide referrals from your previous clients?
- Do you have certifications or documents to prove your experiences, training, and education?
- What are often the most likely outcomes for cases like mine?
Get to know more about those family lawyers who were able to give you factual and satisfactory answers about their expertise.
2. Ask For Recommendations
If searching online or through directories seems too tedious, your second great source of information about potential family lawyers is recommendations from people you know. Perhaps you have friends, relatives, or co-workers who’ve previously worked with a family lawyer and successfully won their case.
So, collect referrals from people you trust. Once you’ve gathered a small list of lawyers, you can research them through their website to see if they’re the right person to help you.
Reading online reviews can also help narrow down your list. However, don’t rely alone on the reviews you see on the lawyer’s website, as there’s a chance they’ve filtered out the negative and honest ones. You can look for other review platforms or social media channels for unbiased and straightforward comments and feedback about their services.
3. Meet Your Prospective Family Lawyer In Person
Meeting the lawyer in person will give you more information about them that you won’t see on their website, such as their personality, professionalism, and work ethic when approaching their clients. So, after reaching out to them online, have an appointment to meet them in person and make a more informed decision on whether they’re the right lawyer for you.
Your chosen lawyer must be someone you can trust and feel easily comfortable with, considering that they’ll be working with your personal family issues. Otherwise, if talking to the lawyer for the first time gave you a negative impression (e.g., aggressive, unwilling to listen, busy fiddling with their phone), you may have to move on to the next lawyer on your list.
4. Focus On Finding The Right Family Lawyer, Not The Firm
Once you go through with the justice system, the person you’ll be working with is your family lawyer, not their law firm. Thus, it’s crucial that you solely focus on finding the right attorney and not on how powerful or popular their law firm is.
That said, you must also ensure that your lawyer will never transfer the responsibility of your case to someone in their law firm whom you haven’t met or even approved. You can ask your prospective lawyer directly as to whether they’ll be the one handling your case alone or they will involve their associates.
5. Detect The Red Flags As Early As Possible
The last thing anyone would want is to hire a lawyer to realize later that they’re not the best person to represent their case. When it’s too late, you’ll have no choice but to deal with them. Thus, you must look for warning signs that signify an incompetent lawyer.
If you’re unsure what signs to look for, here are the red flags that show they’re not the right family lawyer for your needs:
- Bad attitude (e.g., aggressive, lazy, giving indirect, or unsure answers)
- Poor reputation
- Shares confidential information about their previous clients (there’s a risk they’ll do the same to you)
- Constantly distracted with their phones or answering phone calls in the middle of your consultation
- Making bold promises (e.g., I can guarantee the best outcome for you)
- Pushing deadlines
- No personal connection (e.g., you don’t feel at ease with them)
- Can’t provide references
When you detect any of these red flags during your first meeting, don’t hire them. The right family lawyer is someone who not only specializes in your case but also won’t show any of these warning signs.
6. Consider Accessibility
You don’t want to collaborate with someone who is always busy when it comes to answering your inquiries or concerns, as this shows they’re unresponsive or can’t handle their clients effectively. It’s natural for clients to call and reach out to their lawyers regularly as they want to stay in the loop about their case updates.
A competent family lawyer is someone you can reach out to at any time. This means that your lawyer must be able to answer your calls all the time or give you a call back promptly. If you mainly use emails for communication, the right family lawyer can reply to you on time each time in case you have questions, concerns, or need clarifications regarding your case. Their responsiveness, ability to handle stressful cases, and accessibility show that they care about their clients and want to ensure they’re constantly updated about their cases.
Another factor in determining your lawyer’s accessibility is the location of their office. Preferably, go for a family lawyer who is a few minutes away from your home. That way, it’ll be easier to go to their office when necessary and not deal with long-distance traveling.
7. Look For Someone That Charges Reasonable Fees
Family lawyers are generally expensive. Still, some of you may be looking for a cheaper option to save yourself from a huge expense. However, a cheaper lawyer isn’t always the best option, as this could be due to their lack of demand or poor reputation.
On the other hand, you mustn’t decide based on their cost alone. The right family lawyer is someone who can charge you reasonable fees. To do this, ask them about the different types of fees they offer, which usually depends on the complexity of your case. You may also ask if they can provide a rough estimate of your case and see if this is a reasonable price and something you can afford.
Choosing a family lawyer isn’t an easy decision to make. Thus, it’s essential to start your search as soon as possible so you have enough time to follow the steps above and get to know your prospective lawyer better. Remember, family issues are complex, so they should be handled by someone who is an expert in family law and who is compassionate about helping their clients.