The purpose of the initial consultation should be to find answer the following question: Is it in my best interest to hire this lawyer for my divorce or family law matter?  This is the fundamental and most important question for anyone seeking legal representation.  Having said that how do you determine which lawyer is best for you?  I offer a free initial consultation because making sure my client and I are a good fit is crucial.  I don’t want to take a dime from you until we, you and I, are a good fit. initial-consultation-balduf

The following questions and their potential answers should help you find the best fit for your circumstances.  During the initial consultation ask  yourself…

  1. Did this divorce and family law attorney begin to lay the foundation for a successful relationship with me if I actually become their client?

Trust your gut!  If you are put at ease continue exploring the possibility of a working relationship.  If you are not comfortable or feel edgy, move on.  It seldom gets better from this first meeting.

  1. Did the lawyer demonstrate to me that they will deliver quality service in a timely and cost-effective manner?

An attorney should not talk “at you” but to and with you.  If you ask questions as to what the divorce process might look like, you should get real answers.  This is not to say that you will get advice at this stage as to the specifics of your matter (the gathering of more information from you will be necessary to discuss real specifics with you), however, the attorney should be able to go through with you how they work with you toward your goals and answer this with some detail.

  1. How will I be charged and what are the fees and costs of divorce?

billing and charging practice.  You need to feel that it is acceptable practice to discuss your bill and charges with you attorney at any time.

This issue is usually uppermost in the mind of every prospective client who sits across your desk.  Did the attorney take the time to review their retainer and the basis of how they will be compensated, the billing process etc.

Did they promise a total price or cost?  I am aware that today’s client is concerned not only with the basis for the fee but also the overall cost of their divorce.  I am quite conscious of the legitimate concern that all clients have with respect to legal costs.  Although many of the variables which affect the cost of a case are largely outside of our control, such as the actions of your spouse or your spouse’s attorney, the judge assigned to the case and how expeditiously he or she moves the calendar, I am committed to doing all that I can with respect to those things which I can control to keep your cost as low as possible consistent with rendering quality service. So, if someone promises you a total price…RUN as fast as you can.   So what is the answer, you are not made of money?  You need to trust your attorney and understand the the billing and charging practice.  You need to feel that it is acceptable practice to discuss your bill and charges with you attorney at any time.

Some additional tips regarding cost:

  • Does this attorney appear to be organized and gets to the point, indicating that they do not waste time and ultimately your resources (time is money)?

  • Does the attorney offer opportunities for you to do certain things that would result in the same level of representation and work but less time spent doing it by the attorney?

  • Did you get the feeling that being cost-effective is important not only to you but to them.

I will often explain to my client’s that I have enough clients and work that it is essential that we be cost-effective and not spend any more time on a given task or activity than is necessary to meet the standard of excellence and quality for which our firm is noted.

  1. Will we be able to successfully communicate with each other?

I’m often in court or in conference, and not able to take your call or return it right away.  But I’m exceedingly conscious of how important your case is to you, as it is to me, and I always want to be as responsive as possible to you and all of my clients.  I do not take more cases that I can give the proper amount of attention.  You are creating the attorney-client relationship with me, not a paralegal or someone else from an office.  We talk during the initial consultation what communication options are available including, phone, phone conferences, email and in person appointments.  It is so important that you will find reference to this in my retainer agreement.

  1. Is this lawyer experienced and respected in the legal community?

This one is tricky.  Word of mouth is the most reliable source.  In addition to past clients it is amazing how many referrals I get from people who I did not represent-I represented their spouses.  There are of course the reviews online.

You can also ask questions such as:

How long have you been practicing in this area of law?

How much of your time do you spend in court?  (You want an attorney who goes to court regularly and stays in touch with the courts and their practices.  You want an attorney who is not intimidated to take a case to trial if that what it takes to get you a reasonable and favorable resolution.  If the opposing counsel knows your attorney doesn’t like to go to court, they often “low ball”  offers knowing the attorney will “sell” it to their client to avoid trials.)

Does this lawyer specialize in divorce and family law?  Yes, this matters.

Does this lawyer give you options and choices to consider or just tell you what they think you should do?

See also:

The best representation or cheapest? Legal costs.
What Will A Divorce Cost Me? Can I Save Money?