How to Select a Divorce Lawyer
By Scott Morgan
Selecting a divorce lawyer to handle your family law case is a very important decision. The following are a few
important criteria to help in finding the right divorce lawyer.
Experience and Focus
Any divorce lawyer you consider should have substantial experience in handling divorce cases in your location.
An experienced divorce lawyer will know the tendencies of the various judges in your jurisdiction and should be
able to use this knowledge to your advantage. Additionally, that lawyer should practice primarily in the field of
divorce law. Often people will hire a lawyer who practices primarily in some other area, thinking that any lawyer
will do. However, divorce law is a very specialized field that requires particular skills and experience in order
to have a likelihood of reaching a successful conclusion.
Past Client Testimonials
Perhaps the best way to decide which divorce lawyer to use for your divorce case is to find out what former
clients have to say about that lawyer. While divorce is never an enjoyable process, some divorce lawyers have more
success at satisfying their clients than others. If you do not know someone who has been a client of that
particular divorce lawyer, you should consider asking the lawyer for a list of clients that you can contact who can
describe their experience with the lawyer. While client confidentiality is important, any good experienced divorce
lawyer should have at least a few former clients who are willing to vouch for him or her.
When a client becomes dissatisfied with a divorce lawyer, one of the most common complaints is that they were
unable to communicate with the lawyer. It is very important that your divorce lawyer be accessible and prompt in
responding to your phone calls, emails, and requests for meetings. While you can ask the divorce lawyer about their
office policy, this is another area where you can best evaluate the divorce lawyer by hearing what former clients
have to say.
If a former client of the lawyer tells you that they found it very difficult to contact the attorney, or that
the lawyer either did not return calls or respond to emails or would take several days to do so, you should
definitely avoid that lawyer. Divorce is an unpleasant and frustrating process under the best of circumstances. If
you are unable to reach your divorce attorney, or at least someone on his or her staff, the frustration level can
When you make your initial appointment with the divorce attorney, you should inquire about a consultation fee.
Some lawyers do brief initial consultations for free, although most experienced divorce lawyers will charge between
$100.00 and $200.00 as a consultation fee, or will charge their normal hourly rate.
For example, I charge a flat $100.00 consultation fee with no additional hourly charges, regardless of the
length of the meeting. Essentially, the consultation fee is to "weed out" those people who are not serious about
the possibility of hiring me. Given that my normal hourly rate is $200.00/hour and the usual typical consultation
takes about 90 minutes, the charge for my consultation is significantly discounted. Therefore, you shouldn't let a
consultation fee scare you away from interviewing a particular lawyer.
During the consultation it is vitally important that you have a candid discussion with the prospective divorce
lawyer about fees and what you can expect. Typically, an experienced divorce lawyer will require the payment of a
substantial retainer up front, against which that lawyer's hourly rate and expenses will be charged. You should
find out what that lawyer's hourly rate is, what the up front retainer will be, whether any portion of the retainer
is refundable if it is not exhausted, and how often you can expect to receive invoices that detail their hourly
charges and expenses. You also will want to know how detailed the invoices are. Once again, this is another area
where you can get excellent information from those people who have been clients of that divorce lawyer.
While all the above issues are important, there is one final question you should ask yourself before hiring a
divorce lawyer. Are you comfortable with that lawyer and are you confident in his or her abilities? If the answer
is anything other than a resounding "yes," you should keep looking. Your case is too important to entrust to
someone who does not inspire your confidence.
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