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 you need to learn how to respond? These are the most common situations that lead people to speaking with me and the other attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. 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 in the form of 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 to learn what to look for in an attorney and to determine 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 actually hiring an attorney to represent you in an upcoming case.
Do not underestimate the importance of the initial consultative meeting
A lot of people come into their consultation with our attorneys lacking in information. You may believe that you can recall the information off of the top of your head and maybe you can. However, you may be leaving out particular information that could help the attorney you are meeting with tell you more about the options you have and the course that will best suit you.
As a result, please be sure to bring any paperwork or documents that you have questions about. It is not often that your attorney will have only their eyes only on you and your case. Typically you will have to compete with all the other cases that your attorney is handling in order to get their attention for your case in particular. Be succinct 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 single detail that you are seeking it is possible that he or she can present new information.
Do you want to work with the attorney?
Although the attorney is the one with the law degree and all of the experience handling divorces or child custody cases, this is not an interview of you. Rather- 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- an interview of the lawyer. If you ask intelligent questions you can see how your attorney will respond. If you do not like the way they answer you, or simply do not feel like you like him or her you can simply ask your questions and leave.
The other benefit of meeting with an attorney in person and asking individualized questions of the lawyer is that he or she is able to 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 again, be ready to listen. 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 is wanting 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 not only does not have to be a salesman first, he or she 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. A good way to tell if your attorney takes this responsibility seriously is to determine if the attorney that you are meeting with has the heart of a teacher or the heart of a salesman. A salesman is the person we previously discussed 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 to first provide you with information so that you as a consumer can ask questions and make better decisions for yourself in determine 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 that you are meeting with what he or she charges clients in terms of an hourly rate and a retainer. Most attorneys in the field of family law charge by the hour and will also expect an up front down payment fee known as a retainer. Ask the lawyer what the average cost of a divorce with his or her office costs as well as 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 as far as achieving those goals?
It is fine 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 as to what he or she responds with. You do not have to agree with what the attorney says but you do owe him or her the benefit of the doubt in rolling the response in your mind. If you feel comfortable with the revised goal then the attorney has done their job.
There are certain aspects of every family law case that most clients feel like they cannot bend on. 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 that 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 that 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 unto each potential new client that 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.