Are you considering filing for divorce or attempting to modify a prior order from a judge? Has your spouse or ex-spouse filed a similar case against you, and do you need to learn how to respond? These are the most common situations that lead people to speak with the other attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, and me. We meet with potential clients like yourself every week and give general advice and information regarding their family law situation. We understand that you are going through difficult times and need help with advice and information.
In a market like southeast Texas, you will not struggle to find family law attorneys to hire. The difficulty for you will be learning what to look for in an attorney and determining which attorney out there is right for you and your family.
Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will discuss with you some information on how to prepare for a consultative meeting with an attorney and to assist you in making good decisions about how to proceed to hire an attorney to represent you in an upcoming case.
Do not underestimate the importance of the initial consultative meeting.
Many people come into their consultation with our attorneys lacking in information. You may believe that you can recall the information off the top of your head, and maybe you can. However, you may be leaving out certain information that could help the attorney you are meeting with by telling you more about your options and the course that will best suit you.
As a result, please be sure to bring any paperwork or documents you have questions about. It is not often that your attorney will only have their eyes on you and your case. Typically you will have to compete with all the other cases that your attorney is handling to get their attention for your case in particular. Be concise with what you are telling the attorney, come with documents and be prepared to listen when you are through. While your attorney may not have an opportunity to tell you every detail you are seeking, it is possible that they can present new information.
Do you want to work with the attorney?
Although the attorney has a law degree and all of the experience handling divorces or child custody cases, this is not your interview. Instead- it is an interview of the attorney. You are using this meeting as an opportunity to determine if you feel comfortable with that person representing you. Approach the meeting as being what it is- a lawyer's interview. If you ask intelligent questions, you can see how your attorney will respond. If you do not like how they answer you or feel like you like them, you can ask your questions and leave.
The other benefit of meeting with an attorney in person and asking individualized questions of the lawyer is that they can give you specific advice based on your particular circumstances. If you believe that you will need particular advice on a subject, do some outside research, come prepared with documents, and be ready to listen again. This attorney may be able to shed some new light on a subject or cause you to approach the subject from a different vantage point. Seems like a fair trade-up for a short period of your time.
Teacher vs. Salesman
We've all been to an appliance store, electronics store, car lot, or other business where we know before our foot hits the pavement exiting our vehicle that we are about to be sold to. Very few people I know like the feeling of being on someone else's turf where you are being shown attention only because the other person wants to make a buck off of you. It is uncomfortable, and it is not fun. I'm not saying that any attorney can make divorce fun- far from it. However, your attorney does not have to be a salesman. First, they should not be this way.
Attorneys owe a fiduciary duty to their clients. This means that the attorney that you ultimately decide to hire must put your interests ahead of their own in all aspects of their representation of you. An excellent way to tell if your attorney takes this responsibility seriously is to determine if the attorney you are meeting with has the heart of a teacher or a salesman. We previously discussed a salesman who works at the car lot or electronics store. Their sales pitch is well-rehearsed, and they are knowledgeable about their product. On the other hand, a teacher seeks first to provide you with information so that you as a consumer can ask questions and make better decisions for yourself in determining where to spend your money.
If you interview an attorney who shows you respect and courtesy, has the tendencies of a teacher and is an experienced advocate, then you may have found your attorney. The last part of the equation is money. Ask the attorney to meet with what they charge clients in terms of an hourly rate and a retainer. Most attorneys in family law charge by the hour and will also expect an upfront down payment fee known as a retainer. Ask the lawyer what the average cost of a divorce with their office costs and how long an average divorce lasts.
Goal setting- and being realistic
Everyone should have a goal as you begin a family law case. If you present yourself as a hardheaded person with unrealistic goals and an unrealistic timeline with which you are willing to reach those goals, then you may find yourself having a hard time hiring an attorney. What can you do to ensure that you both have goals and have realistic expectations for achieving those goals?
It is OK to come into a meeting with goals that are not altogether that realistic. You may not have any frame of reference with which to compare those goals to anything else. However, once your attorney hears your goal, you will need to keep an open mind about what they respond with. You do not have to agree with what the attorney says, but you do owe them the benefit of the doubt in rolling the response in your mind. If you feel comfortable with the revised goal, the attorney has done their job.
Most clients feel like they cannot bend on specific aspects of every family law case. Make these points clear to the attorney, and you will learn how reasonable it is for you to expect to win on those points in the exact manner you would like. While some goals will need to be modified, others can remain for the duration of your case as the overarching goals that you and your legal team seek to accomplish.
Always available for a follow-up conversation- the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.
If you meet with an attorney from our office in a free-of-charge consultation, we hope you will call us back with any follow-up questions you may have. A licensed family law attorney will do their best to answer those questions either over the phone or in a second, brief consultation here in the office. We seek to impart as much knowledge about divorce and child custody cases to each potential new client as we possibly can.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office, where we can answer questions and talk to you about your goals for your family law case.