How to Choose a NYS Family Law Attorney

How to Choose a NYS Family Law Attorney

Steps to take to choose a family lawyer

Choosing a lawyer can be a challenge.  It’s not unusual that the requirement to make a choice develops during a time of stress, which doesn’t make the process any easier.  Often clients are confronted with this challenging decision out of the blue (like divorce or an emergency child support matter) and you need someone to guide you through legal and practical options. Who do you turn to?

Here are some basic but essential tips on how to choose a New York family lawyer:

1.      Do some research about attorneys online and off.

Divorce lawyers? There are thousands of divorce lawyers throughout New York State. Talk to people you know. Have they had a good experience with a lawyer? Do research online. Does the lawyer have a website that describes what they do? Are they listed on online directories? Be careful about online reviews and websites, of course. Anybody can post anything online, even anonymously, and clients who had a bad experience are much more likely to complain than happy clients are likely to provide rave reviews online.

2.      Go shopping for the right attorney.

You hire the lawyer; the lawyer does not hire you. Talk with a few lawyers who you have identified as likely candidates. Meet with your potential attorney or speak over the phone. The lawyer-client relationship is often intensely personal, especially when family matters are at issue. You should find out whether you can relate to your attorney in a meaningful way.  The consultation can tell you a lot.  Figure out if you were able to be honest, truthful and if your prospective attorney was patient, understanding and realistic about the potential outcomes.  If the attorney has promised you the world, this may not be the right attorney.  Check with others on the law and what the potential outcomes could be.

3.      Identify what type of lawyer you want.

Are you looking for a “go for the throat” bull dog, or an attorney who can hold their own but emphasizes civility in resolving disputes. This type of information will often come through on an attorney’s website, but you should also ask your prospective attorney what their approach is, and determine whether that meshes with your own.

4.      How much will the legal services cost?

Figure out what your budget is and whether the attorney can work with that. Some attorneys charge a lot, or charge for every item and administrative detail. Others may charge a flat fee for certain work. Is there a retainer? Minimum fee? Make sure you clearly understand how much the attorney’s services will cost and how they expect to be paid before hiring the attorney.

What about you? What do you think are the most important factors involved in choosing an attorney? Take our poll and see how your thoughts compare to others’.

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Image Source: Supreme Court by Marc Fischer on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons license. Use does not connote endorsement.

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