Choosing to enter into a professional relationship with someone is a critical decision, especially when that person is directly responsible for you and your family's well-being. These days, most people do a fair amount of research on professional and customer sites prior to choosing anyone, from a doctor to a car mechanic. It's interesting, however, that an attorney doesn't get quite the same scrutiny from those who are filing for a divorce, or other family law related motions. Most family lawyers can tell you story after story about clients who bemoan the ignorance, callousness, and ineptitude of their prior attorney. They will also tell you that the majority of these clients fail to ask important questions about the prospective attorney's experience and qualifications,, or ask for personal references from former clients.
So, just why are so many individuals less than thorough when choosing a divorce attorney? Well, it could have to do with the fact that people tend to be highly emotional when faced with the prospect of divorce. That can affect their judgment, as well as their ability/ willingness to check the attorney's credentials with former clients and the state bar association. Another possibility is that most individuals want to move on with their lives as quickly, and cheaply, as possible. The lawyer who promises them the fastest results at the lowest rates -- the one who's allegedly handled hundreds of cases like theirs -- would be pretty irresistible to someone who's desperate to be divorced.
While there's no magic formula for how to find a great attorney, professional qualifications and familiarity with your local court system are key factors. Depending on the complexity of your divorce, you may want to consider a matrimonial law attorney -- a certification only awarded to attorneys who demonstrate the highest levels experience, knowledge and education in the field of matrimonial law. You will also want to verify his or her familiarity with the court system handling your case, i.e, judges, court staff, court procedures, etc. An attorney with such experience, by the way, would most likely be familiar with your spouse's attorney, as well as qualified mediators and other divorce professionals in your local area. This can be quite helpful in resolving your divorce as soon as possible, especially if you're able to negotiate an agreement without court intervention.
Aside to professional qualifications, make sure that you feel a human connection with your attorney. He or she should be responsive to your needs, meaning that they respond to your concerns in a respectful manner, within a reasonable time frame. In addition, your attorney's approach to your case should match the goals that you are trying to achieve. A persistently aggressive approach, for example, may not be helpful if you are attempting to resolve your divorce through private methods such as mediation. At the end of the day, no amount of education and experience can overcome a significant clash of personalities when it comes to the emotional and sensitive field of family law.