5 Tips For Getting The Most From Your Divorce Lawyer
Each case is as unique as you are. You are purchasing a service rather than a product. Following these guidelines will help you get the best results in the most cost-effective way.
- Tell me the truth about everything
- Keep your appointments with me
- Be patient
- Pay me on time, as agreed
- Listen to my advice and follow it
As a divorce lawyer, I have handled thousands of cases and each one has a different set of facts. Every divorce case is unique in its own way and the details in a divorce case matter. However, we have found that no matter what the facts are the following 5 tips apply to every family court case:
Tell Me The Truth – About Everything
You need to tell me the “good, bad, and the ugly”. Do not keep secrets hoping that I will not find out, or worse, that the opposing attorney will not find out. The opposing attorney will utilize every bit of damaging information against you and in the worst possible light.
We need to know any potentially damaging evidence or facts beforehand so that we may be able to defend you in the courtroom. There is nothing worse than finding out something important while we are standing in front of the judge – it makes both of us look bad. Knowing “the bad” allows us to prepare a response before we are in front of a judge and gives us time to gather evidence to support your position.
Please do not think that there is something that is so terrible that we have never heard it before. Assume that everything is important and tell me.
Keep Your Appointments
Most lawyer offices operate on the “appointment method” as do most doctor offices. We may be up against deadlines and a last minute cancellation in your appointment with us could leave us without being fully prepared for court or without time to gain a critical piece of evidence. Also, our schedule fills quickly – we are a litigation firm and we are in court almost every day. Keeping your appointments with us allows us to set aside time specifically for you and your needs. If you cancel, it could be days or weeks before we can reschedule your appointment.
We certainly understand emergencies, and life, happens and it is not always possible to keep an appointment. If this happens, we ask that you use an alternative form of communication such as email, text or phone to discuss your case.
Be Patient with us Returning your Phone Calls and Emails
As a rule, I am not solely in control of my own schedule. I am often in court, at depositions, researching a case, preparing for trial, at a required continuing legal education seminar, in a Collaborative Law meeting or conferencing with new or current clients. Usually, I am often subject to the Court’s docket, or other lawyer’s hearing settings.
If you call and I am not available, make a phone appointment with me at that time. It is better than simply leaving me a message to return your calls. This way you and I will have a set time to talk about your case and you will not be waiting for me to call you back.
I do have office staff including Claire and Art but they cannot give legal advice. They can however, relay a message to me. The only way for that to be effective is for you to leave a specific and detailed message. They can also schedule a phone appointment.
Listen to your divorce attorney, not your Friends or Family
It is very tempting to listen to family and friends about how to handle your case, usually a family member or friend has been through a divorce once or twice. I’d tell you, listen to your lawyer –I have handled thousands of cases. Your family and friends mean well and their motives may be good, but they are not lawyers. Often times, their advice may be what they think is best for you but not necessarily what is best for your case. If a family member or friend offers advice, thank them and listen to them, but if you and I haven’t discussed a recommended course of action, it is best to follow up with me before following a family member or friend’s advice.
Pay your Attorneys Fees
My hourly fee is competitive with the local standard. It should be understood from the beginning that you will pay as outlined in your contract. If your case is important to you, then you should make sure your lawyer is paid. Your case should be a priority to you and we expect you to take it seriously. If you are not paying attention to paying your bill, that is a signal to the lawyer that you do not take this matter seriously.
You would not continue to work if you did not get your paycheck and you should not expect me to either.
I will ask for your spouse or ex-spouse to pay your attorneys fees in most cases, but experience has taught us that the likelihood of collecting fees from your spouse or ex-spouse is not particularly good. Therefore, you will be responsible for the fees which are incurred by this office on your behalf. If payment is received from your spouse or ex-spouse, then it will be applied to your outstanding balance and the difference will be refunded to you.
I make every attempt to keep your fees as low as possible. Even so, the actions of your spouse, or your spouse’s attorney often require action on our part and we must charge you for that. There are no flat fees and although I may give you an estimate, it is just that, an estimate. All work by either me or my staff is charged for, including time spent on the phone.
You may be able to reduce your fees significantly by giving us your full and timely cooperation. Information gathering that can be adequately and timely done by you, the client, saves lawyer time and keeps fees down. A client that carefully follows instructions of the lawyer is likely to reduce the overall cost legal representation.
I know attorney fees are expensive, and in a family law case, it is usually an additional expense at the worst financial time of your life. Even so, the cost of maintaining a law office is significant. We must maintain computers, employees, phone lines, supplies, copiers, fax machines, and other tools of the trade at all times in order to properly represent you. If you do not pay your fees, we cannot adequately maintain the law office, and therefore cannot give you the service you deserve.
Thank you for following these guidelines so that your case proceeds smoothly and efficiently.