The 7 Step Guide to Vetting Your Family Law Attorney

The 7 Step Guide to Vetting Your Family Law Attorney

Finding the Right Family Law Attorney for YOU

Choosing the right attorney for YOU is a critical decision. And unfortunately, you’re most likely making this decision under stressful and emotional circumstances…or you wouldn’t need a lawyer.

First finding and then vetting lawyers can be a long process but your due diligence will pay long term life dividends. Bottom line, finding an attorney that is your advocate and that meets YOUR needs as a client is absolutely critical.

I keep emphasizing the word “you” because your needs as a client will always be different than any other client that came before you. You need to find a family law attorney that meets your needs.

To aid you in your search for the right family law attorney, we recommend you review the following items to determine if an attorney is the right fit for you.

#1 Family Law Specialty and Passion

This may seem basic, but you MUST work with an attorney that specializes in the area of law you need. This does not mean that they simply list the fact that they practice “family law” on their website. When you review the attorney’s digital presence, look for signs that they are experts in family law. One great place to look is at their social media and blog. Are they thought leaders in family law?

Working with an attorney that is a specialist and expert in family law will help you get the results you desire. Think about it…practice makes perfect and repetition has allowed a specialist to hone their craft. And although specialists may cost more, they will be more efficient with your time and will have a better chance of achieving favorable outcomes.

At our law firm, we only practice family and matrimonial law. That’s because our passion lies in helping families overcome some of the worst obstacles in life. Make sure the attorneys you vet can say the same.

#2 Cost of an Attorney

How much you pay for your lawyer is an important variable in choosing the right lawyer. Generally, the cost will differ between firms depending on whether the firm and its attorneys are specialists in family law. If you go to a firm that “churns and burns” clients through the doors, you’re most likely to find that the hourly cost is lower. They make their money on volume.

Niche practitioners, although generally more expensive will be more efficient and will achieve better results than a generalist firm (see above section). The cost you pay for your lawyer can range from $300 – $1000/ hour depending on the firm, location, and who you are working with in the firm. If you are working with a partner (who has a ton of experience) you’re going to pay more per hour. If you work with an associate, you’ll see a lower cost per hour.

#3 Experience in Family Law

The number of years that an attorney has been practicing family law is absolutely critical to look at. They may bill themselves as a specialist in family law, but you need to look at the number of years they’ve actually been litigating. You can find this information on avvo.com

Experienced family law attorneys have simply seen more. They’ve failed. They’ve overcome. They’re wiser to the court, it’s process, and the tactics used by other attorneys. Although you may save money using a less experienced attorney, you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice quality for price. For some, it may not be an option, but if you’re serious about winning your case, finding an attorney with at least 8 years of experience in family law is crucial.

#4 Supporting Team

What does the firm structure look like? Is it a single attorney? Or do they have a support system internally of other lawyers, paralegals, and business managers? I’m not necessarily saying bigger is better but having a team to support you as an attorney can greatly increase efficiency and efficacy of litigation.

Lawyers talk. They strategize. Lawyers are problem solvers and as you’ve heard…”two heads are better than one”.

#5 Customer Service and Availability

You’re seeking legal counsel because you’re going through a tough time in your life. It could be divorce, child custody, or an alimony fight. No matter the issue, always ask your attorney about availability.

Are they going to be available when you need them? No matter the day or time? Sometimes you may not need to talk to your attorney, but you may still have questions. Do they have a business manager that you can call to ask those questions?

Although availability may not seem like a critical aspect of your relationship with your attorney, being able to call your attorney or an individual at the firm that is representing you when you have a need is priceless.

#6 Attorney Personality Traits

Remember, when you first meet with your attorney, that this is an interview for them. You are the hiring manager. Part of your job is to vet the personality and professional traits of your attorney. What you look for and need in your attorney may be different from another, but generally the following traits are critical:

  1. Articulate – Can your attorney clearly articulate what they think in a simple and easy to understand way?
  2. Confident – When your attorney speaks, are they confident in what they are saying? Do they make direct eye contact?
  3. Thoughtful – Does your attorney give thought to what they say before speaking? Or do they shoot from the hip?
  4. Listener – When you speak, does your attorney listen?
  5. Creative – Does your attorney provide creative insights or solutions to your situation?

#7 Attorney and Law Firm Reviews

What are others saying about the attorney you are considering working closely with? Reviews are a great way to get insights and to learn from others. Generally, reviews are a good indicator on whether an attorney is a good fit for you. Places you can find reviews of your attorney include the below.

Make the Best Decision for YOU

Choosing the right attorney for you is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. So, take your time, ask the right questions, and grade you lawyer on these 7 criteria. If you intentionally do this, you’ll see the cream rise to the top. And you’ll undoubtedly make the best decision for YOU!

Harvest!

– Mia Poppe

Legal Tri-Parenting: More than just Mom & Dad

Legal Tri-Parenting: More than just Mom & Dad

A Child Can Have More than Two Parents

Just this winter, New York joined Maine, California, and nine other states in declaring that a child can have more than two parents. While this might sound impractical, the decision affects a whole number of different families who have reasons for wanting more than two parents.

For example: a man who’d like to remain a legal father even if DNA testing reveals that the child is not genetically his; a terminally ill single parent who’d like to provide a surviving couple for her child, or a gay couple who decides to incorporate their donor/surrogate into their family and lifestyle.

While grandparents, siblings and other relatives can all step in and help when a parent or parents need it, allowing for a third person to be legally labeled a parent gives them different rights and responsibilities, and allows them to step into the child’s life in an entirely different way.

Without legal status as a parents, there are all sorts of smaller issues—doctors appointments, school meetings—that can prove tricky to get in to. And of course, many people just want to know that they have real, legal standing at the child’s parent and guardian.

Mia Poppe, a family law expert at Poppe & Associates, spoke about how important it is for all people who feel that they are a parent to the child—and have made the long commitment of caring for said child on a regular basis—to be able to bring their parentage to court.

There are some scientific situations which also allow children to have more than two parents.

3-parent children have also been a medical reality for the past few years. In traditional children, half the DNA comes from the mother and half comes from the father. In specific situations, a third DNA can be inserted into the fetus. When a child is found to have certain diseases located in the mitochondrial DNA, or mDNA, the mDNA can be spliced out and replaced with a “good” DNA, belonging to neither the mother nor the father.

The child now contains DNA from three separate “parents,” though the mDNA is not known to have impact on any genetic traits of the child. In this situation as well, a child or parent could go to court to argue for three (or more) legal parents.

With the new medical and legal possibilities, the modern family is growing and becoming more rich and complex. The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates are here to help you manage the complex rulings surrounding this matter—and to make your family whole. Contact us today for a free consultation!