What factors should I consider when hiring a family law attorney?

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By John Jones, Esq.

The selection of a lawyer to represent you in a family law matter is one of the most difficult decisions you will make. Some would say it is every bit as important as the choice of a medical care provider. However, there are some guidelines which you can apply to the selection process.

1. A recommendation from a trusted friend or family member who was represented by the lawyer in a family law matter is as good as it gets.

2. A lawyer who focuses most, if not all, of his/her practice in family law is crucial. A lawyer who practices in a number of areas of the law may not have the necessary knowledge of family law or the judges who will decide your case.

3. There are a number of services out there (including web sites), which purport to evaluate lawyers in various areas of the law. However, they are not all reliable. Some of these services charge fees for lawyers to be named on their website. Fortunately, there are some services you can rely upon. Perhaps the oldest and best such service is Martindale-Hubbell. Martindale- Hubbell provides “Peer Review Ratings.” These ratings reflect the confidential opinions of attorneys and judges who have worked with the lawyer you are considering. An “A/V” rating is the highest they award.

4. Do not hesitate to ask a lawyer you know to refer you to an attorney the referring lawyer can personally vouch for in family law. That does not mean the referring attorney needs to have been divorced; just that the lawyer personally knows the reputation of the lawyer to whom he/she is referring you.

5. Read and understand family law articles written by the lawyer you are considering. These need not be formally published or long, but they should be written in plain language, informative, helpful and answer questions you might have about your area of concern.

6. When you meet with a lawyer you are considering hiring, be aware of how he/she makes you feel. You should get the sense that this person really cares about you and what will happen to you in your situation.

These are just a few things to consider when you select a lawyer for a family law matter. While it may cost a bit more, do not be afraid to meet with more than one before you choose. Remember, it is the long-term relationship with which you must be concerned.