Choosing a divorce lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make during your divorce process, not only are not all divorce lawyers created equal, but each of us have our own unique persona and set of priorities in our case, which makes it even harder to find a great fit. I spoke to Tiffany Hughes Esq. of The Law Office Of Tiffany M. Hughes, of Chicago to gain some insight into the divorce attorney choosing process. These are the answers of Tiffany M. Hughes Esq.
Why do we make such bad choices with the lawyers we pick?
Consumers tend to make bad choices since cost is typically the driving factor in choosing an attorney. While it's important to keep budget in mind, many consumers unfortunately choose cost over quality, ultimately leaving them dissatisfied with their representation. Choose an attorney based on the quality of their service, and the zealousness of their advocacy. Clients can always discuss their monthly budget, as well as any payment plans, with their attorney. Attorneys are more than willing to work with their clients. However, as a consumer, picking an attorney purely based on cost is never a good idea—and it may not be the most cost-effective decision in the long run either.
How can we make best possible choice when choosing a Lawyer?
Do research. Get recommendations from people in your network and look at endorsements and reviews online. Searching for "top attorneys" on Google and Avvo will get a good amount of peer and consumer-endorsed attorneys. Look at awards as well—find out which attorneys are known for their outstanding client service. Furthermore, look at firms that only practice in the area of law that you are specifically looking for. There are many general practice firms that do a little bit of everything. However, the smaller firms that focus on 1-2 areas of law (ex. boutique family law firms, personal injury firms, or traffic and criminal defense attorneys) are essentially experts in the field. They tend to have a variety of experience in these smaller areas of law, and tend to be more familiar with the local rules that govern each city or county. Lawyers who have practice in a single or couple areas tend to be the best, most experienced in their field.
Lawyer practices choices
Lawyers and/or firms that offer very low flat fees in domestic relations are common. If your case is non contested, or requires minimal legal input, flat fee could be a good option. However, what's important to note about domestic relations cases is that proceedings always vary in length, complexity, and contested issues. There is no "one size fits all" for divorce and parentage cases, so choosing a "one fee fits all" could not be the best choice for your case. In especially contentious cases, where there are Emergency Motions that need to be filed in a timely manner, lawyers with flat fees could be hesitant to take action, since they would likely be exceeding their flat fees and essentially losing money. In high-asset divorces, lawyers may choose not to move forward with formal discovery in an effort to save money and cut costs. Formal discovery is critical in cases where there are lots of assets or debt. Like all else, there are very good flat fee attorneys and some very good pay per hour lawyers, either way just be sure to do your homework, and research and have a realistic expectation of how complex your case will be, before making your choice.
Tiffany M. Hughes, gives us some great practical advice for choosing a lawyer. The fact is in most divorce cases, neither party will win everything they ask for, or think they are entitled to, we all can only make the best choice based on the information we have, and accept that each person in a divorce case will both win and lose something in the legal process. This is why it is important to have realistic expectations going into any courtroom, and use your money wisely when picking the legal team you may need.
Tiffany M. Hughes Esq is rated as a Super Lawyer, and recipient of Avvo client choice award 2017.