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How To Interview Your Divorce Lawyer

During the initial meeting with your divorce lawyer (often referred to as an initial consultation), it is important to gather as much information as possible about the lawyer.  You want to be able to make informed decisions on whether the lawyer is right for you.  A strong attorney-client relationship is vital to the success of your case.  Here are some essential questions to ask your prospective divorce lawyer:

What areas of law do you practice?  As basic as this question may seem, you want to ensure that the lawyer specializes in family law.  Lawyers that practice in various areas of the law may not have the requisite level of expertise to handle your matter.

Where do you practice law?  You should make sure that your lawyer practices law in the county where your case will be heard.  The practice of law does vary slightly from county to county, and you want to make sure that your lawyer is familiar with the protocols, as well as the judges.

Who will be working on your case?  You should ask whether anyone else in the office will be assigned to your case, such as a younger lawyer and/or a paralegal.  You should find out what tasks they will be handling and how much they charge for their services.  You should also find out who the “point person” would be on your matter.

How will we communicate?  Does your lawyer communicate by email, telephone call, video conferencing and/or in person meetings?  Be sure to ask how often the lawyer will communicate and whether all phone calls and emails are returned within a certain timeframe.

How much will my divorce cost?  No attorney will be able to honestly tell you what your divorce proceedings will cost because there are too many variables.  However, an experienced attorney should be able to provide you with an estimate under different scenarios. Be sure to ask about the lawyer’s retainer, hourly rate, and overall billing structure.

What is the typical divorce process from start to finish?  Although your lawyer will not be able to predict the exact steps from start to finish, cases tend to follow a path or a pattern.  You should be provided with a road map of what you could reasonably expect in your divorce proceedings.

Is there anything that you should be doing to protect your family?  At the outset, your lawyer should provide you with some tips as to how to protect yourself as you embark upon the divorce process.  The tips could range from seeking a temporary restraining order for domestic violence or ways to protect your assets.

Tell me about yourself.  Some say that selecting a divorce lawyer is similar to selecting a doctor.  The lawyer should have a good “bedside manner.”  You should make sure that you feel personally comfortable with the lawyer, as this could be a long relationship.

After the conclusion of your initial consultation, it is natural to have follow-up questions and you should be given the opportunity to have those answered at another time.  Do not be afraid to ask for clarification, where needed.  Your divorce lawyer will be your advocate and trusted advisor.  In fact, the selection of your divorce lawyer may be the most important decision you make during the divorce process.

By Grace Eisenberg