Hiring a Divorce Lawyer (Checklist)
No one wants to hire a divorce lawyer, but the fact is that millions of men and women go through divorce and custody proceedings every year. Many people believe that any lawyer can and will protect them from the potential nightmare of a domestic lawsuit. In reality, the lawyer can become part of the nightmare instead. You owe it to yourself-and your kids-to hire the best lawyer possible. This checklist has been provided by How to Hire the Right Divorce Lawyer.

The Checklist
  • Collect names of potential candidates. This can be done through several different resources:
  • Family Members, Friends, and Acquaintances
  • Advertisements
  • Speakers and Columnists
  • Referral Services
  • Therapists, Support Groups, and Doctors
  • Professional Direttorie
  • Bar Associations, Professional Trade Associations, and Law Schools
  • Referrals from Other Lawyers
  • The Courthouse
  • Pare down your list to maybe three or four prospects.
  • Call each lawyer for a free initial phone consultation.
  • Schedule an initial appointment with the one or two that seem to suit you best.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask the lawyer to help you qualify them:
  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • How much of your practice is in the field of domestic relations?
  • Other than domestic relations, what kinds of cases do you handle?
  • How long have you been doing domestic-relations work?
  • Are you certified as a specialist in domestic relations?
  • Who else, other than you, would be working on my case and why?
  • Tell me about three of your cases that were the most meaningful for you and why.
  • How do you think the local judges perceive you, and which judge do you think is the best to have in a domestic case?
  • How do you think the other local domestic-relations lawyers perceive you?
  • How often are you in court?
  • How often are you in court on a domestic-relations matter?
  • When was the last divorce or custody trial you had? How long did it take? Who was the judge?
  • How many open divorce and custody cases do you have right now?
  • How many divorce or custody trials have you had in the past year?
  • Do you represent both men and women? Why or why not?
  • How often do you handle appeals on behalf of your domestic-relations clients?
  • How many appeals have you handled in your career? How much do you charge?
  • Do you require an advance retainer, and if so, how much is it?
  • What do you do with the advance retainer? Is a portion of it reserved for the final bill?
  • How often do you bill?
  • May I see a sample bill showing what information will be on my bills and the level of detail?
  • How long after I am billed before payment is due?
  • Do you take charge cards or offer a payment plan?
  • What happens if I cannot pay a bill? Do you immediately terminate my representation?
  • How much do you estimate my case will cost altogether?
  • What are the terms of the fee agreement?
  • How long will it be before the case reaches completion?
  • Do you require anything from me in the way of information or otherwise before you can decide whether you can undertake my representation, and if so, what?
  • What is your rating in Martindale-Hubbell?
  • What are your activities in bar association groups pertaining to domestic-relations law?
  • Are you involved in any social causes pertaining to domestic relations (e.g., fatherís rights, domestic violence issues, lobbying or supporting changes in the law as it pertains to divorce and custody)?
  • What kind of result do you think we should be looking for in my case, and is this a reasonable goal? Do you feel I have any unrealistic expectations? If so, what are they and why?
  • How many cases have you had with my spouseís lawyer, and what are your impressions of that lawyer?
  • If you are not available to take my call, do you have someone else who will be able to speak with me? If not, how long will it take you to return my call?
  • Will you need to hire an expert witness for my case? What will be the areas of expertise and who will you use? How much will this cost?
  • What are the different phases of my case? Describe briefly how the process will work.
  • My spouse is (or I am) prone to fits of rage and violence. Will this be a factor in my case?
  • Why do you handle divorce cases? Arenít they difficult because of all the negative emotion?
  • Have you ever been suspended, disbarred, or reprimanded? If yes, give details.
  • Have you ever been sexually or romantically involved with one of your divorce clients?
  • This whole process of getting a divorce and having to testify in court has me really jumpy and nervous. I feel like everything is out of control. Is this normal? What should I do?
  • Is there anything I havenít asked about that you want to tell me?
  • Please give me some references (current or former clients).



   
 
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Suggested Reading
How to Hire the Right Divorce Lawyer How to Hire the Right Divorce Lawyer
No one wants to hire a divorce lawyer, but the fact is that millions of men and women go through divorce and custody proceedings every year. Many people believe that any lawyer can and will protect them from the potential nightmare of a domestic lawsuit. In reality, the lawyer can become part of the nightmare instead. You owe it to yourself-and your kids-to hire the best lawyer possible.

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Suggested Reading
Should You Switch Lawyers? And How to Do It! Should You Switch Lawyers? And How to Do It!
This book supplies the knowledge you will need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your divorce lawyer and guide you in making an educated decision on whether or not it is in your best interests to switch to a new lawyer.

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KEEP AN EYE ON COSTS – The cost of a litigated divorce – one that goes to court – can be eye popping, and divorce, it should be remembered, makes more people poor than it makes any rich. When a divorce seems headed for trial, most lawyers prefer to work with a retainer agreement, which is the upfront payment. Typically, the total number of hours multiplied by the hourly rate is the lawyer’s fee.
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