Pointers for Finding a Good Family Lawyer
Legal issues involving families can bring tremendous emotional and financial issues to members, but a family lawyer can offer much needed relief. A lawyer will give you expert advice about how the laws apply to your specific circumstances and work to advance your interests. But of course, lawyers are not all created the same. So how will you know the right one?
Areas of Expertise
Do they practice solely in family law or is it only one of their many practice fields? In urban centers, you will find more lawyers practicing in niche areas, while in smaller cities or towns, lawyers often practice with a general scope.
Amount of Experience
Experience is only a single factor to look into. Lack of experience is not automatically a reason to reject a certain lawyer. There are plenty of dependable and competent young attorneys who are ready for work and who give quality service. One question to ask them, however, is what support system they have in place, should they run into situations they don’t know how to deal with.
Prior to meeting with a lawyer, know their hourly rate. Everybody’s budget is different. An initial meeting with a family lawyer will typically run from one hour or two, depending on the attorney as well as the details of the case. When you book a consultation, be sure to ask if you have to pay for it, though it’s usually free; As you book a consultation, ask if you are going to be charged for it, though in most cases, you won’t be.
The Retainer Agreement
The lawyer needs to give you a written Retainer Agreement that specifies what services they are being hired for, what their fees are, the retainer deposit required, and they will bill you. Review the Retainer Agreement meticulously before signing it, making sure that you understand it, and asking as many questions as you have. Never sign anything under pressure – you can take the documents home so you can review it and think about it before affixing your signature.
Ensure that you understand the attorney’s billing methods. Know how often you will be billed (for example, hourly); how often you need to replenish your retainer;how your account statements will be given to you; whether they have payment plans available; and what the consequences will be if fail to pay everything you are billed. Find out how frequently you will be billed (for instance, per hour); how often your retainer must be replenished;how you will receive your account statements; any payment plans available; and the consequences of failing to pay all that you are billed. Find out how often billing is done (by hour, for instance); how often you are expected to replenish your retainer; how you will be given account statements; whether payment plans are offers; and what happens in case you fail to fulfill your financial obligation to your lawyer.
Financial Documents and Other Necessary Paperwork
Lastly, when you go meet with your attorney, take with you copies of your three most recent Income Tax Returns and Notices of Assessment (if you have any), and evidence of your income. You should also bring with you any records of any other assets and debts (for example, credit card statements, bank statements, etc.