When the stakes are high, choosing the right advocate to defend what matters most is of vital importance. To ensure your time, money, and trust are respected, our team has assembled a list of keystones to keep in mind when on the hunt for your attorney.
1. Objectives. When you start calling offices, it is important to keep your values and objectives in mind. Are you looking for a bulldog? Do you want a collaborative effort? How much can you afford to invest – emotionally and financially – in the coming fight? Do you want an attorney that takes a more hands-off approach? Make a decision before you pick up the phone, and communicate your desires clearly with the teams you speak with.
It is normal and common for firms and clients to not be on the same wavelength, and for both to be completely justified in their perspective. Different attorneys take different approaches. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed if the attorneys you speak with don’t quite mesh with your ethos. You deserve to find the firm that you are most comfortable with.
2. Understanding. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. In most cases, there might be several potential avenues to achieve your objectives – each with their own pros and cons. Which path you take will influence the duration and intensity of your matter.
As the attorneys you consult with about their recommendations, and don’t be afraid to ask about their reasoning. Ethical attorneys will be more than happy to elaborate and make sure you weigh the scales properly.
3. Planning. Rushing the hiring and investigation process before you run into court can be disastrous. The quality of advice and assistance an attorney can provide is directly correlated to the amount of information the firm has at its disposal. Don’t rush the initial process for short term gain and be skeptical of any attorney that promises too much with too little context. Doing so could delay you further when vital information is discovered later – costing precious time.
4. Thoroughness. If it was not clear from our prior writings, be sure to ask as many questions as necessary to understand an attorney’s practice and to ensure their goals and objectives line up with your own. Be on the lookout for red flags, like an impersonal feel from the attorney, and/or an attorney who demonstrates a lack of concern for your emotional state.
Attorneys that are hesitant to over-promise without all the information are a green flag. Misleading clients for the sake of the sale may be good for the firm, but not good for you. Look for a team that puts their integrity first.
5. Focus. Family law is highly emotional, even when both parties are working together. As such, it’s important to find a team that helps you sift through the whirlwind and focus on what’s important to you, your life, or your children. You want an empathetic ear in your advocate, but you also want someone who isn’t afraid to deliver tough news when it is warranted.
6. Experience. Not all attorneys are created equal – and that’s ok. Ask your attorney what matters they have dealt with before. Ask them what staff bandwidth their team has, and make sure it’s a good fit for the issues at hand. Make sure you aren’t hiring an adoption attorney to handle your divorce.
7. Cost. Cost is an important factor when hiring an attorney. Make sure you understand a firm’s fee schedule and billing structure. Do they take retainers? Trust deposits? What is their termination policy, and what duties does the firm assign themselves in their Representation Letter? Make sure you review everything carefully and ask any questions until you are satisfied.
Most associate attorneys of quality around Seattle charge between $250/hr – $375/hr depending on practice area and experience. Senior attorneys often charge more. Decide what range of hourly fees might be acceptable to you before you start making calls but be prepared for some high numbers if your matter is complex. Just be aware that you can always find a guy who can do it for cheaper – but you can’t always find a guy that can do the job right.
8. Convenience. Pay attention to the firms’ location, accessibility, responsiveness, and accommodations. These type of convenience factors go a long way when you’re dealing with a process that can take months, sometimes years, to complete.
9. Gut. There really is no better way to put it. Does it feel right? A firm and an attorney can do everything right, and for some reason your gut hesitates. Listen to your instinct and let the firm know you’ll be looking elsewhere. If they’re ethical, they won’t try and stop you.
If you’ve already done your research and you’re ready to choose our legal team here at Hemmat Law Group, get in touch at our contact form.
The Hemmat Law Group (HLG) was founded in 1994 by Steven Amir Hemmat, a former DOJ Trial Attorney. We specialize in family law, supporting victims of the legal system.
Hemmat Law Group help good people in bad situations.
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