You decide that you want to get a divorce. Should you try to retain the best divorce attorney? Absolutely. You should retain the divorce attorney who is best for you! What does that mean? One who listens, who charges a rate that you can live with, knows the law, and understands that your divorce doesn’t exist to fund his or her next island vacation.
Here’s a few things you should know . . . .
Big Fancy Office = Big Fancy Price
Some people think that the best attorney has the nicest car, wears the nicest suits, and has the nicest downtown office. These “credentials” come with a heft price tag – rates of $400-$600 an hour for a partner and $375 an hour for associates. Unless you are a professional athlete or a Fortune 500 CEO, these attorneys are not the best for you. Sure, they will agree to represent you in exchange for a $5000 or $10000 retainer. What they don’t tell you is that they will burn through your money, withdraw from your case, and you will still be married and pretty much in the same shape as when you first walked through their door.
Many people come to me after being disenchanted with their first attorney. Their expectations were not met and they are angry that the first attorney took their money and produced no results.
Are your attorney’s rates affordable for you? Did he or she explain how far the retainer will get you in the case? Did he or she explain the office policy on billing? Many people are shocked when they are billed a minimum amount for every telephone call and email.
Just because you you are a high-net-worth person doesn’t mean you have to make an out-sized contribution to the net worth of your lawyer. Check out the article I wrote titled, “Tips for High Net Worth Divorce in Illinois.”
Is the attorney someone you feel comfortable with? Does he or she take a genuine interest in your concerns and makes an effort to thoroughly explain things to you? I can’t solve everyone’s problems over the phone or in the first consultation. However, my goal is to help solve your problems and not waste your resources.
Use of Associates
Another common complaint is that one attorney is hired, but that attorney never appears in court — only associates who don’t seem to know what they are doing. Young lawyers need courtroom experience. But you don’t necessarily want them learning on your dime. You should ask how much of the work on your case will be done by associates, or even paralegals. If you are not getting the attention of the person you hired, you are not getting what you paid for.