Hiring an attorney is both a significant decision and investment, financially and personally. To assist you in that process, we have compiled some important points to keep in mind when deciding whether to retain an attorney.
- Make sure you know who you will be working with. Many times, especially in larger firms, you may meet with and hire an attorney in your initial meeting only to interact the majority of the time with that attorney's paralegal. To that end, be sure to ask in your initial meeting which attorney exactly you will be working with and who else you can expect to communicate with within the firm.
- Ask the attorney about their educational background and experience. Especially in the field of family law, when you are dealing with your most important personal and financial matters, you want to make sure you are hiring an attorney with the requisite education and skill set to protect your interests.
- Trust your gut. You will be interacting with this individual a great deal and often sharing sensitive details about your life. You want to make sure that you have confidence in and trust your attorney before hiring this person.
- Do not hesitate to ask about the firm's billing practices and rates. Although it is unlikely they will be able to give you an exact dollar amount for the ultimate cost of your case, it is important that you have a clear understanding of the firm's rates and billing practices so you know what to expect from the beginning of your case. You will also want to be sure that you read any retainer agreements or other contracts carefully and ask questions if you do not understand a particular section or provision.
- Note the size of the firm and the areas in which the attorneys practice. Particularly in the field of family law, it is advantageous to hire an attorney who specializes exclusively in that area of practice. Although many family law attorneys are solo practitioners (attorneys who work alone, sometimes with support staff, but not with additional attorneys), it is helpful to hire an attorney who works at a firm with more than one attorney to ensure that your case will always be handled in the event that your primary attorney is unexpectedly unavailable.
- Ask about the firm's guiding principles or mission statement. Some attorneys take a “scorched earth” approach which can unnecessarily escalate tensions while other attorneys may not be aggressive enough. At Digby Family Law, we prepare and treat each case as if it were going to trial while taking care not to make matters more contested than necessary, especially when children are involved.