How do I choose a good family law attorney?

Choosing a good family law attorney may seem to be an impossible task (may seem to be difficult), but if you follow some basic advice, you will be able to find/choose/locate/obtain counsel that can best help you efficiently and effectively achieve your goals.   

Knowledge of the Law 

Any good attorney must start with a solid understanding of the law, and how the law applies to your case.  This attorney should be able to discuss the specific statutes regarding your case, and how the court might analyze the facts of your case to the law governing your claims.  

However, it is also important not to confuse knowledge with certainty, and it is unrealistic to expect an attorney to automatically know the answer to any complex question that you might have.  One important component of being an attorney is to be able to realize and acknowledge situations where the answer isn’t clear, and to be able to tell your client why the answer isn’t clear.  At that point, the attorney would have to study caselaw and statutes before he or she could finalize their answer.  

Ability to identify the Issues affecting your case

An attorney needs to be able to identify the main issues affecting your case, which includes not only the issues and facts that you think are the most important, but also areas that you as a client might be overlooking or failing to consider.  An attorney is valuable because they can see things from an emotionally distant perspective, and are therefore not as biased concerning the most important issues affecting your case.

Effective Communication 

Being able to effectively and efficiently communicate with your client is one of the main skills that an attorney will develop over their career.  Effective communication includes many things, most importantly the ability to answer your questions in a way you understand, being able to clearly present you with options in your case and making you understand the advantages and disadvantages of those options, and being able to communicate with you in a timely manner.  

If an attorney uses overly complicated language and fails to make the client actually understand what is happening, the client is going to be confused and will not be in the best position to help with the case.  Similarly, if the client doesn’t understand the available options and the risks those options might have, the client may end up making poor decisions.  Finally, the lawyer needs to timely respond to the client, and the client has to have confidence that he or she will be able to speak with their attorney within a reasonable time frame after initiating contact.

Overall Comfort Level

A client needs to be feel comfortable their attorney and confident that he or she is looking out for the client’s best interest.  This doesn’t mean that the attorney will agree with everything the client says, and an attorney often needs to push-back against a client’s unrealistic demands or expectations.  However, the attorney needs to be able to have these frank discussions with the client, and the client needs to be able to trust that the attorney is ultimately looking out for them.