Once you reach the point where you have decided to hire a divorce attorney to represent you in your case, the next step you need to reach is deciding what sort of attorney is best for you. After all- there are no two divorces that are exactly the same. This shouldn’t be a surprise since you and your spouse (plus your children and financial situation) are unique. So, one divorce attorney may pair well with you and another down the street may not. That is just how the process goes when it comes to selecting a divorce attorney.
You will not suffer from lack of options in the Houston area and southeast Texas in general. If you drive down any of the main thoroughfares or ask a group of friends who they could recommend you will find more lawyers out there than you can shake a stick at. The issue for you is to be able to find which attorney matches up the bets with you and your circumstances. You’re essentially putting out an advertisement where you are looking to hire an employee. Treat these meetings with attorneys as a job interview.
Since there are so many attorneys in our area you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. After all- it’s nice to have options but sometimes we get a little bogged down in the analysis when it comes to making a difficult decision. The sheer volume of attorneys that you have to choose from can causes paralysis by the analysis. On top of the number of attorneys you have to choose from, you have to realize early on that you probably don’t have much experience in doing what it is you need to do- namely, interview, select and hire an attorney to represent you. That’s not an indictment of your intelligence or your aptitude to pick a lawyer- it’s just an honest assessment of the fact that you aren’t a lawyer (most likely) and you have never gone through this process before.
That is where our office comes in. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to share with you some tips on hiring a divorce attorney. We are a group of attorneys who are committed to providing excellence in service and advocacy for our clients. However, we realize that in order for you to become a client we must first inform and educate you on why our office would suit you best in your search for legal representation.
In today’s blog post I would like to share with you some indicators that you can look for in order to determine that you are on the right track when it comes to hiring a divorce attorney. While we all have our “gut feelings” about who is right and who is wrong for us, I think that it pays to have some knowledge in your back pocket to fall back on when it comes to identifying who would be the representative for you.
Indicator #1: The attorney should be a family law attorney
As I mentioned to you early in today’s blog post, there are many attorneys that you can find in our area who will represent you in a divorce. Competition is a good thing for consumers. As a consumer of legal representation, you can use the sheer volume of attorneys to your advantage. Finding a good attorney with experience who charges a fair price is very possible in our area. The first thing you need to look to on whether or not to hire that lawyer is whether he or she practices in family law.
Divorce attorneys are what we may be known as in the general public, but the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are more accurately called family law attorneys. Family law attorneys’ practice in the family courts of southeast Texas. We work with families like yours in divorce cases, child custody cases, adoption cases, grandparent’s rights cases, etc. The Texas Family Code contains the set of laws that govern our client’s cases. This is why we are known as family law attorneys.
Like anything else in life, expertise in family law is an important trait to have in your attorney. If you are about to embark upon a divorce, then your attorney should be a family law attorney. An attorney who occasionally takes a divorce case is not a family law attorney. You should ask the attorney how many divorces he or she has handled in the past year. If the answer is that you are either the first or one of a handful, I would move on from that attorney. It doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t qualified in some area of the law to represent you, but if it is a divorce that you are concerned with you need someone who has been there and done that.
Think about it this way. Would you use a realtor to sell your home who has never sold a house before? What if you were going in to have a surgical procedure and you find out that your surgeon has never used a scalpel before. I bet you wouldn’t feel too confident in either situation. Now, apply that same reasoning to this situation involving your divorce. Do you want to walk into a courtroom or a mediation office with a lawyer who only every once in a while, practices family law?
Odds are your spouse is hiring an experienced family law attorney. That means you have even more of a reason to do the same thing. I think the most important indicator you can look for when hiring an attorney is that the attorney needs to be an experienced family law attorney. Family law attorneys know how to avoid mistakes, draft documents and negotiate in the best and most efficient way possible. While many attorneys can represent you in a divorce, you want one who has excelled in this field.
Indicator #2: The attorney should have a plan for your case
Remember that when you are interviewing attorneys you should have questions ready for him or her. You should give the attorney an overview of the situation and then have some questions ready to ask. Getting information from a family law attorney is always a good thing, but just as important as that is finding out how the attorney problem solves. I would want the attorney to tell you a brief, general outline of how he or she thinks your case will go.
Ask questions to the attorney about what is likely to happen to you and your family as a result of your divorce. Of course, the attorney cannot predict the future and it is impossible to give the attorney all the important details of your case in a short interview. However, with all that said he or she should be able to give you a general outline of how your case may proceed and how the attorney can help you.
That is the important part of the development of a plan. Any attorney can be a warm body for you in a courtroom or in mediation. However, if you can select an attorney who is capable of thinking on their feet, developing a plan for you and then putting that plan into action you have done well in the interview process. You’ll have no real way of determining whether or not the attorney is capable of following through on their plan during an interview in their office. However, the inability to have even a basic plan for your case is a sure-fire way to tell that he or she Is not the attorney for you.
Indicator #3: The attorney should have the heart of a teacher
Brownie points should be given to an attorney who can educate you while planning out a course for your case. A professional person like an attorney who has the heart of a teacher is a nice quality to have in tough situations. Many attorneys will talk at you rather than talking with you about your case. The attorney may be able to speak well to judges and opposing attorneys but if he or she can’t communicate with you then all of that is of little value to you.
Remember that your divorce is your case. It may feel like you are passing the baton of your case to your attorney once you hire him or her, but the truth is that the case is yours the entire time you have an attorney. That means that your attorney’s job is both to guide you but also to educate you on the important issues that you are facing. Since the case is yours it is your responsibility to make decisions. How can you be expected to make important decisions for yourself and your kids when you don’t know anything at all about the subject matter?
If your attorney tells you, “Just trust me” or something similar during an initial interview then you should choose another attorney. An attorney should be able to communicate clearly and teach you about the law and your case. That way you are aware of your circumstances and can make the best decisions possible for yourself. If you don’t understand what is happening in your case then your attorney will end up shouldering too much of the burden on your case. This is a bad way to start a relationship.
Indicator #4: The attorney should make clear that he or she values communication
If you have heard anything from friends or family about divorce attorneys that is negative, I am willing to bet that you have heard that attorneys are hard to get a hold of. If you have ever hired an attorney in another area of your life it may be the case that you have experienced the same thing. Trying in vain to reach a person only to have him or her never return your phone calls can be one of the most frustrating things in the world.
So, you should do your best to pick up on whether or not the attorney you are speaking to brings up communication in your conversation. I will tell potential clients of ours that we expect you to communicate well with our office because we expect to communicate well with you. Our office will make every effort to communicate well and often with you during the course of your case. The reality is that your attorney may be working day and night on your case but if you don’t know what is going on then you will have no idea about the work that has gone into your case.
Talk to the attorney about what you need as far as updates regarding your case. If you know in advance that you are the type of person who needs weekly updates, then you should communicate that to the attorney. If you know in advance that email works better than phone updates, then you should communicate that to the attorney. Basically, I am telling you to dictate the terms of how you need to be communicated with.
If the attorney bristles at your requests or seems to disregard the importance of communication, then that should be a warning sign for you. Among the other indicators that I have shared with you today, I think communication skills are right up there at the top as far as most important indicator to look for. Finding an attorney who is willing and able to communicate with you is essential to the success of your divorce.
Questions about divorcing in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material that we have shared with you today, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can answer your questions and address your concerns directly. We appreciate you spending part of your day with us here and hope that you will join us tomorrow as we share more information with you regarding Texas family law.