1. Who will work on your case. If you have a consultation with a partner at a divorce law firm with more than 10 lawyers, chances are that your consultation is with a senior lawyer but unless that lawyer expects your case to generate over tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands in fees) your case won’t be handled primarilly by that attorney. Instead, your case will handled by a junior lawyer (often times just a few years out of law school). The senior lawyer will tell you that the junior lawyer will handle the day-to-day aspects of your case but he or she will still be responsible for the primary aspect of your case. The truth is that the day-to-day part of the case is often where it is won or lost and you want an experienced attorney handling it.
2. Your attorney’s experience. Whether you are hiring an attorney to review a settlement agreement or fight a court fight, you need a divorce lawyer who has a significant amount of experience in the practice of family law. An experienced lawyer will not the range of possibilities to expect from the court on all issues. Too often litigants hire their real estate lawyer or business lawyer to draft settlement agreements or to represent them in a contested hearing and these lawyers are at a disadvantage which results in a poor outcome for their client.
3. The fees charged. You should have a clear idea of the fees charged not only by the lawyer you are consulting with but by everyone else who might work on your case. Additionally, will only one or two attorneys go to court. Often times firms where a senior partner has a junior associate working with him or her, both attorneys end up going to court even on routine matters. The result is that you pay twice the hourly rate you thought you would pay.
4. Communication. How easy is it to reach your lawyer by phone or email. Many firms have a maze of staff and assistants who screen your calls before you ever reach your lawyer. You should insist on having your calls and emails answered or returned in a timely fashion.
5. Being comfortable with the attorney. In person consolations are a must for both the attorney and the client. Both parties must feel comfortable with the other and that they are able to effectively work with each other. A divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. You should not complicate that by hiring an attorney who intimidates you or makes the process anymore difficult for you than it already is.