In the current shaky economy, many people in need of an attorney go shopping for the least expensive attorney they can find. This may be a false economy, given the potential for finding an attorney with little experience and minimal dedication to the client’s welfare. This can be especially true in the area of family law.
Poorly drafted divorce decrees and transfer documents can leave clients with child support orders that are unenforceable, clouds on the title of their real estate, unrealizable interests in retirement plans, and complicated and expensive post-divorce litigation that could have been avoided if a competent attorney had been hired in the first place.
Not that every inexpensive attorney is incompetent. There are many boutique family law firms that have younger attorneys who bill at a lower rate but have the advantage of supervision by the more experienced senior attorneys. There are also less expensive approaches to divorce that are offered by more expensive counsel.
When shopping for representation, the client should look for an attorney who explains all possible processes for resolution of their divorce.
- Does the attorney ask if the couple are capable of sitting down together and coming to a “kitchen table” resolution with the attorney available to answer any questions that might come up?
- Are they informed that there are mediators who they can work with to resolve their differences with the attorney being utilized to do the required paperwork?
- Has the attorney been trained in collaborative law, a non-adversarial approach to divorce resolution which offers the added advantage of teaching the couple a system for resolving their differences after divorce?
If the only approach mentioned by the attorney is litigation, the client should question why that is the only process being suggested, as in many cases, a litigated solution can be the most expensive possible approach, even when the attorney hired was the “least expensive” to be found.