14 Jun 8 Tips For Choosing The Best Family Lawyer
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.
How Do You Find The Best Family Lawyer?
Choosing the best family lawyer during your divorce is very important, helping you reach the best outcome, understand the process and make the most appropriate decisions.
The right family lawyer can mean a faster, less expensive and less emotionally taxing process.
To make the choice for the best family lawyer, you need to know what to look for.
Not many people facing a marriage break-up have previous experience in legal matters of any kind, much less in the legal aspects of a divorce, so it can be difficult to know exactly how to go about finding the right person to guide you through the process.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing the best family lawyer for you:
1. Start Looking As Early As Possible
Deciding which lawyer you want to help you through this significant and often difficult life change is not something you want to do in a rush.
As soon as you think you might need a family lawyer, start searching for one that suits your needs.
Knowing that you have a professional you can trust, who knows what they are doing and who understands your circumstances will greatly reduce the stress that can come with separation and divorce.
It is hard to be sure the right person is handling your situation if you had to find them in a limited amount of time.
Even if you are not sure that you will need a lawyer for the entire process, if, for example, you hope it to be an amicable divorce, seeking legal advice early on lets you understand the process and feel more comfortable.
2. Ask Around
Approach the search for the best family lawyer as you would the search for any other professional: ask friends and family members whether they know any lawyers that they can recommend.
With high national divorce rates, it is likely that other people in your extended family or social circle have gone through relationship breakdowns and they may be able to give you advice on which lawyer to choose and on what they found most helpful from their family lawyers.
You do not have to rely only on friends. Other professionals such as accountants and psychologists often work with divorce lawyers and can refer you to lawyers they have worked with before and who they think will be the best fit for you.
3. Choose An Expert
Family law is complex and constantly changing, with new cases that can set precedents and change how judges respond to other cases in the future.
A lawyer who practices several types of law may not be the best choice, as they may not have a deep enough insight into family law. They may only practice it very rarely.
Therefore, a specialist family lawyer whose expertise and experience is in family and divorce law is much more likely to be the best lawyer for you.
Check whether they have the skills and experience that match up with what you are looking for.
For example, if you think your case is likely to go to court, it is a good idea to make sure your lawyer has courtroom experience.
If children are involved in your separation, find out whether your lawyer has worked with other clients in similar custody matters.
If you feel your divorce will be a more amicable one, look for a lawyer who is a better negotiator.
4. Meet Your Lawyer
Once you have found a few family lawyers who seem to be good fits for you and your situation, meet each of them before making your final decision.
Meeting someone in person gives you a far more well-rounded impression of them than correspondence by email or talking over the phone does, and meeting a couple of different lawyers allows you to feel more certain in your final decision as you will really know that you are working with the best lawyer.
By meeting the lawyers in person, you can also work out the levels of personal compatibility you have with each of them.
5. Personal Compatibility
While you are paying attention to your potential lawyer’s expertise, past experience and the results of their previous cases, think about how you find their manner and whether you are comfortable with their approach.
This is a business relationship, but the best family lawyer for you is someone you feel you can trust and who will represent your point of view.
If working with a particular person causes you more stress, if you feel as though they are not listening to you, not treating you with respect or if they are not giving you the advice and information to help you clearly understand your rights and responsibilities, it may be better to continue looking for someone else.
Make sure that your lawyer is accessible to you, meaning that they answer your calls, or promptly return them, and consistently reply to your emails.
There is no use spending time and money on someone when you feel like they are not giving your case the attention it needs.
Similarly, it would probably be quite difficult to work with a lawyer who constantly uses legal jargon without offering an explanation.
Location can also be a factor.
Hiring a lawyer in your local area can be very convenient and alleviate some stress, such as time constraints when travelling to meet them.
If your perfect lawyer works halfway across the city, make sure they are worth the extra effort.
7. Look For Warning Signs
Be on the lookout for any warning signs that might tell you this is not the best family lawyer for you.
This could be as simple as not feeling entirely at ease with them, or it could be something more serious.
If your lawyer starts discussing confidential information from other cases with you, they might do the same later on with your case.
If they are constantly distracted, answering texts, phone calls or emails during your consultation time, you may not be getting the most attentive assistance.
Most of all, you want a lawyer who acts according to the industry ethics.
8. Don’t Let Cost Be The Only Factor
Divorce, as many people know, can be a very expensive process.
However, this does not mean that choosing a cheaper lawyer will result in a lower overall cost.
A lawyer with a higher hourly rate may be more efficient at their job, taking less time and therefore less of your money than a less expensive lawyer would.
A less expensive lawyer, on the other hand, probably has lower rates because they are not in as high demand, but this does not necessarily correlate with their level of dedication, expertise or professionalism.
Basing your search for the best family lawyer on their fees alone is not an effective way to find the most suitable lawyer for you.