Choosing the right attorney to handle your Georgia divorce or other family law issue is overwhelming for some. With all of the options available, it may seem difficult or even impossible to determine which attorney would be best for you. In recognition of this, in Parts 1 and 2 of Tips for Hiring a Georgia Divorce Attorney, we have listed a few tips that we hope will help you choose the attorney who is right for you.
Most importantly, choose an attorney who is experienced in the practice of family law and who has a good reputation, both among clients as well as other professionals.
1. Educate yourself. One of the best ways to begin your search for an attorney is to do some research on websites such as LinkedIn, Avvo.com, Attorneys.com, Martindale-Hubbell, or the websites of your local or state bar association. These websites will not only provide you with the contact and background information of potential attorneys; they often offer reviews posted by former clients or business associates as well. Look for attorneys who have positive reviews, not just by former clients, but also by other professionals, because it is often essential for divorce attorneys to work with or consult other professionals during the divorce process. You want to ensure that your attorney will be able to work with others effectively on your behalf. Additionally, consulting friends or professional acquaintances is also a great way to ensure that the attorney you choose is experienced and will be committed to your case. Once you have identified an attorney you would like to consult, check out that attorney’s webpage. Most law firms have webpages that should provide the attorney’s biography as well as information concerning the attorney’s practice are and case history.
2. Remember, this is your choice. The choice of who you would like to represent you in your Georgia family law case is your own, and you are free to engage any attorney licensed to practice in the state of Georgia as long as that attorney does not have a conflict of interest. Do not hesitate to ask pointed questions to all of the attorneys you consult in order to be sure you choose the best attorney for your case.
3. Focus on your goals. Most family law cases, especially divorce, are ripe with emotion. Unfortunately, many people focus on their anger or frustration without thinking about where they want to be when the case is done. Identify your goals early on or ask each attorney you consult with to help you do that. This way you will save money, provide your attorney with direction and have something to work toward.
4. Expect superb customer service. Before you hire a Georgia divorce attorney, you should ask him or her how they will communicate with you. Although it is not reasonable to expect your attorney to be available every moment you need him or her, it is reasonable to expect a return telephone call or e-mail within 24 hours. It is best to discuss this aspect of your relationship up front rather than trying to deal with it once you have hired an attorney and a problem occurs. Additionally, once you have hired an attorney, he or she should be willing to explain things to you and work with you to come to the best resolution of your case, and at no point should your attorney be disrespectful or demeaning in any way.
5. Discuss fees and billing before you ask an attorney to begin working on your case. Before you ask any attorney to begin any work on your case, ask them for a written document that states what the costs will be, how often you will be billed, what your attorney’s hourly rate will be and what retainer or upfront fees are required. In all likelihood, the prospective attorney will ask you to review and sign an agreement that spells out exactly how fees and billing will be handled. But if not, be sure to request an explanation.
Check back soon for Part 2 of Tips for Hiring a Georgia Divorce Attorney.
By A. Latrese Martin, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC