Hiring the right divorce attorney to handle your divorce is a very important decision. Notice, I said “the right” divorce attorney. Sure, there are a lot of attorneys out there – but you need to find the right one for you and your situation. Don’t select an attorney simply because their office is close to your home. Don’t select an attorney simply because their fees are cheap. And, don’t select an attorney that does not have the necessary experience. Your selection process should consider a number of factors in order for you to make the right decision – a decision you won’t regret in the near future. The following are a few important factors to consider when hiring a New Hampshire divorce attorney:
1. Attorney's Experience
The divorce attorneys that you consider working with should have substantial experience in handling New Hampshire divorce cases. Additionally, if child custody, alimony, or property division will be issues, the attorney should have considerable experience in these areas as well. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by over-stated claims of success, or experience. Do your homework. You want an attorney that focusses their practice in Divorce and Family Law.
There are many recent law school graduates and other inexperienced attorneys practicing in the areas of Divorce & Family Law. Divorce & Family Law can be a complex area of law that requires specific legal knowledge and experience. You may not want to risk your future, and your family’s future, on a rookie Attorney. An experienced divorce attorney will know, not only the law, but what to expect of the judges and should be able to use this knowledge to your advantage.
2. Client Testimonials
The best way to decide which divorce attorney to use is to find out what former clients have to say about the attorney. Typically, you can do such research on the internet by looking at such websites as http://ww.AVVO.com or http://www.lawyerratingz.com. You may want to avoid attorneys with no testimonials or negative ones. You can also review the attorneys bio in greater detail on such sites as http://www.linkedin.com. By doing your homework you should be able to get a better understanding of the attorney’s background, experience, and client satisfaction in the community.
3. Ability to Communicate With Attorney
One of the most common complaints from unhappy clients is that they were unable to communicate with the attorney. More specifically, that their attorney did not keep them informed of what was going on in their case. Or, the attorney never responded to their telephone calls or emails. It is very important that your divorce attorney be accessible and prompt in responding to your phone calls, emails, and requests for meetings. Discuss with the attorney their policy on such communication. But, more importantly, look at how they responded to your initial inquiry. Ask them if they give out the cell phone to their clients. Ask them if they are able to get their email messages on their cell phone – and if they do – do they respond in a timely fashion? Communication is the key to an attorney/client relationship, so please do not gloss over this criteria.
4. Fees that the Attorney Charges
When you make your initial appointment with the divorce attorney, you should inquire about a consultation fee. Some attorneys will schedule you for a free initial consultation so that you can meet with them, discuss your situation, and see if the attorney can assist you. However, most divorce attorneys will charge you a significant consultation fee, or will charge their normal hourly rate. This should be a red flag. You should not have to pay to initially meet with an attorney.
Once you find an experienced New Hampshire divorce attorney who will meet with you initially for no charge, please be sure to discuss the attorney's hourly rate, what the up front retainer will be, whether any portion of the retainer is refundable if it is not used, and how often you can expect to receive invoices that detail their hourly charges and expenses.
Let’s face it, cost is a huge concern when dealing with any attorney. There's only so much water in the well...and money in your pocket. And, of course, attorneys can’t give services away for free either. So, it has to be a fair compromise for both. Let's be honest, it doesn’t matter if you find a great attorney if you simply can’t afford their services. It's amazing that attorneys can actually get away with charging clients $250.00, $300.00, or even $350.00 OR MORE an hour for attorney fees. We have witnessed over the last several years that consumers are becoming smarter when shopping for a competent attorney.
Additionally, you should discuss with the attorney any available options to allow you to control your costs. Of course most attorneys offer one service - one way - with a BIG cost. However, many progressive attorneys utilize varying options, like Unbundled Services and Flat Fees, to meet their clients' needs and budgets.
5. Being Comfortable With the Attorney
Finally, while all the above factors are important, there is one final question you should ask yourself before hiring a divorce attorney. Are you comfortable with that attorney and are you confident in his or her abilities? If the answer is anything other than a resounding yes, you should keep looking. Your case is too important to entrust to someone who does not inspire your confidence. Remember, you want an attorney who values you as a client and will listen to the tone of how you want to proceed. For example, you don’t want a mild mannered attorney for a tough litigation case. However, you may not want an attorney that can’t tone-down their bravado for a case that can be cooperatively settled without litigation. In the end, the attorney needs to fit you and your case.