- Preparing for Your Consultation
It all starts with an initial consultation. The consultation with a divorce lawyer is an opportunity for you to tell your story, ask any questions, learn about the legal process, and develop your game plan / strategy to resolve the issues you are about to face.
During the consultation, divorce lawyers listen to their potential client, understand their goals, and advise them about the proper direction to move forward in the case
- Attention is Important
For example, in your initial contact with the law firm;
- Did you receive prompt reply and attention?
- Was the divorce lawyer that you spoke to knowledgeable about family law matters?
- Did lawyer take a genuine interest in you? / were they patient? / rushed?
- Was the scheduling of the appointment process simple and efficient?
- Was there a follow up after the initial consultation?
The above factors will help you assess the level of attention that you are likely to receive at the law firm should you hire them to represent you. The best divorce law firms have large, professional, experienced team members ready to assist you promptly.
- Your Team at the Law Firm.
Successful law firms employ an efficient delegation system. Legal assistants to draft correspondence, paralegals to prepare pleadings and take notes, and the office manager who handles accounts. In saying that, you realise there is a strong communication chain at your disposal you can rely from.
If you have any questions pertaining to your case, who do you contact and how quickly will you get an answer? Some questions can be answered by legal assistants and paralegals, whilst others may require an answer from the lawyer.
- The Best Way to Move Forward
At the initial consultation stage, your lawyer should thoroughly explain the various options open to you. For example, can your case be resolved with mediation? Is an Uncontested Divorce Agreement possible? Is your case suitable for Collaborative Family Law? Or will your case be highly contested?
“Your divorce lawyer should advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case, but ultimately let you decide how to wish to proceed”
Your divorce lawyer should be in a position to give you a range (at stages) regarding how much your divorce case is likely to cost from start to finish. In a lot of highly- contested cases, it is impossible to predict exactly how much a case is likely to cost since the cost may depend on factors outside of the lawyer’s control.
For example, much depends on the opposing party’s level of cooperation or lack thereof. If the opposing party is stubborn, uncooperative or unwilling to compromise, you will need to seek direction from the court on multiple issues, increasing the costs of the case.
You must ask questions to understand the fee structure. Will your case be flat fee or will you be billed on an hourly basis? What is the lawyer’s hourly rate? Do support staff charge for their time, if so, what is their hourly rate?
Clarity on these questions up front is necessary when building a strong lawyer-client relationship.