How to find a divorce lawyer – 5 tips to find the right representation for you
Going through a separation can be an emotional and worrying time. While the process has its challenges, finding the right divorce lawyer for your specific needs can make a difficult process a little easier. The right family lawyer by your side can help you to achieve the best possible outcome and make you feel more confident and supported along the way.
But how do you find the right family lawyer for you in your particular situation? Here’s our top 5 tips to finding the right legal representation for you.
Determine the speciality needed
Different lawyers have different strengths in their practice, so it is important for you to first consider what strengths you need from your lawyer to help with your matter. Will you need a strong parenting lawyer? Or will you need a lawyer with expertise in financial settlements? Will you need to file an urgent court application and need a lawyer with a strong litigation background?
Not all family lawyers are the same. Some lawyers are known to be strategists; others might be confident in a courtroom but lack interest in negotiation. It is important that you inquire and understand whether the lawyer you are considering has the qualities you think you need. You need your family lawyer to be the best advocate for you and your interests, while bringing particular skills to meet your expectations about how you want your case to be driven.
When choosing which law firm you would like to go with, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Just like lawyers, different firms have different strengths. There are larger firms where there are many different services offered and there are boutique law firms where they focus on one particular area of law.
In some commercial firms, family law may be one part of many within the bigger structure, but in boutique family law firms, their lawyers and staff work only in family law. Here at DDCS Lawyers, we have two specialist practice areas which are highly complementary and interconnected – family law and wills and estate planning. The family lawyers in our boutique firm choose only to work in family law because they love it and do it very well.
Also consider whether the firm has experienced family law specialists, who have met additional independent assessment criteria in order to be recognised as Accredited Specialists. The lawyers working in specialist family law firms should also be fully engaged with the broader profession and the Courts and can bring the benefits of that experience to your matter. Often, knowing your opponent and their style of practice helps lawyers to shape and plan strategy and to strengthen their client’s case. Knowing your opponent and the Court will also assist with case preparation.
At our firm, we have senior partners who have been immersed in family law for decades and bring that experience and wisdom to assist our clients and in the support of our professional team. The connections and networks that a specialty firm has developed over the years are applied to benefit you.
Do your own research
Doing your own research is as important as speaking to potential lawyers. Some law firms, like ours, will offer a complimentary service to help new clients. At DDCS Lawyers, when a new client calls to make an enquiry, you will get to speak with one of our partners or Senior Associates. If a partner or a Senior Associate is not available at that time, one of them will call you back and speak with you about what the firm can offer and importantly, answer any initial questions you might have. That way, we help you to decide if we are the right firm for you and we will match one of our experienced lawyers to your particular situation.
There are other places where you may be able to seek information about family lawyers, including contacting the law society or governing body in your State or Territory. In the ACT, you can contact the ACT Law Society for further information and referrals.
Confirm the reputation
If possible, find out the reputation of the lawyer and the firm. You may be able to do this by asking people you know, checking Doyle’s Guide, or reading articles published on media (such as RiotAct). One of the best ways to find a good lawyer is through word of mouth, and speaking to past or current clients of that lawyer may help you feel reassured about their particular skills. Your accountant, financial planner, GP or psychologist may have had some experience with local family lawyers too, and they might be able to share some of their thoughts about that lawyer or law firm based on their experience.
Find the right match for you
Often lawyers and clients end up working together because they have found a connection based on expertise, interests and the ability to communicate. This is more than your lawyer just being able to tell you what the law is – it is much more about helping you to feel that you have been heard, your situation has been understood and the advice given to you has been communicated clearly and simply.
Most people want a lawyer with an understanding of their needs and with compassion and sensitivity to their specific circumstances. Feeling comfortable and confident in your choice of lawyer is very important. You will want to be able to speak freely, be heard and receive honest advice. Ultimately, you need to find out what your potential lawyer’s values are and whether or not they align with yours.
What about cost? For most people, money matters. We know that legal fees can be expensive. Talk to your lawyer about fees. Not all lawyers charge the same – and different lawyers within a firm come at different rates. More experienced lawyers understandably have a higher hourly rate than others. See if the firm you are interested in has a range of lawyers and can assign junior lawyers to assist with certain aspects of your matter, to keep costs down. Having a skilled and passionate junior lawyer helping out, with partner oversight, adds value to your case and helps keep the costs within your budget. At DDCS Lawyers, our partners oversee all work and provide support, direct and indirect, to all our clients.
Finding the right lawyer for you is a very personal process but it will make a significant difference in your family law journey. Hopefully these tips will give you a head start.
DDCS Lawyers specialise in all aspects of family law and can help guide you through the difficult process of separation. If you need assistance, contact our team on (02) 6212 7600 to book a consultation.