Choosing the right attorneys in a divorce or family law matter is absolutely critical. The right attorneys can help you to successfully begin the next phase of your life. The wrong attorneys can leave you in financial and emotional ruin. It is that important. How many cases has the lawyer handled? What percentage of the attorney's practice is devoted to Family Law? Obviously, 100% is the best. You would choose a Heart Surgeon-not a General Practitioner--to perform your heart operation. It should be no different when you choose a lawyer for your divorce or family law matter.
Are there other attorneys and legal assistants in the firm? Do these attorneys and legal assistants also devote their time to Divorce and Family Law?
The biggest law firm is not necessarily the best law firm in divorce and family law cases, because very rarely does any single case warrant the involvement of many lawyers. At the same time, an experienced divorce and family law attorney does need the assistance of at least one other less senior attorney and a legal assistant, in order to be able to provide the most effective and cost-efficient service to each client. It is in your best interests for your lawyer to delegate many tasks to firm professionals with lower billing rates, so that the lawyer will spend less of his or her more expensive time doing work that the other firm professionals can easily handle. In addition, it is physically impossible for any lawyer to be available for you all of the time. When your attorney is unavailable, you will be better served and you will feel better if you can talk to another attorney or legal assistant in the office who is familiar with your case.
A lawyer should have a reputation for being trustworthy, credible, well-prepared and reasonable. To obtain objective information, ask other lawyers or former clients of the firm. A good lawyer can provide you with references from former clients who have consented to the release of their names
In Texas, lawyers who handle divorce and family law matters are required by law to have a written fee agreement with each client. Experienced divorce and family law firms require a deposit or "retainer" from a client before beginning work. Make sure that the law firm will not utilize that money before it is earned. It should be placed in the law firm's Trust Account and applied as each client's work is done. Do not choose a law firm to represent you, simply because its hourly rates and/or retainer are the lowest. The old adage that "you get what you pay for" certainly applies to legal services.
Your comfort level
Ultimately, this is the most important factor in the decision-making process. As a client, you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. In this area, your "gut feeling" about the lawyer can be your best guide. Does the lawyer listen to you? Do you feel comfortable talking to the lawyer?