Five tips for finding a family lawyer that is the right fit
By Sharon Silbert
With hundreds of lawyers serving the residents of Niagara, selecting someone to help you navigate your legal matters can feel like an overwhelming task. Fortunately, with a little planning, the search can be simplified. Here are five things you can do to streamline the process of finding a family lawyer that’s just right for you.
#1: Ask for the right recommendations from the right people
Most people can probably recommend a lawyer of some sort, but there are several different types of lawyers. If you aren’t looking for a personal injury lawyer, don’t ask for a recommendation from someone who’s just won a slip and fall settlement. Instead, ask friends and family if they know anyone who has been happy with a lawyer they’ve worked with on the family law matter that’s applicable to you. If you’ve had a lawyer that you’ve enjoyed working with on other legal matters, such as the purchase of property or the drafting of a will, ask them if they have any recommendations for family lawyers.
#2: Begin with the end in mind
In asking friends and families for lawyer recommendations, you’ll probably also receive a lot of unsolicited advice about your legal situation. Take a step back and spend some time thinking about the ideal outcome you’d like to reach for your situation. If it’s a separation or divorce and your goal is for things to remain amicable, you probably won’t want to secure a lawyer who has a reputation for being a bulldog. You may also want to investigate options with a family lawyer such as a do-it-yourself agreement, collaborative family law, or mediation.
#3: Do some online shopping
Once your list of recommendations reflects your desired outcome, take some time to review each lawyer’s website to get a better sense of their experience, services and approach. Reading a lawyer’s blog articles, frequently asked questions and social media posts will give you a better sense of whether it is someone you would like to work with or not.
#4: Make time for face time
Since the lawyer you choose will play an important role in some potentially life-changing decisions, it’s critical that you feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly with the person. The best way to get a sense for this is to conduct onsite interviews with at least three options.
#5: Ask the right questions
Spend some time preparing for your research consultations. In addition to having a concise summary of the situation you’ll be discussing with them, bring a list of questions to help guide the conversation to ensure you get the information that you’re seeking. It’s completely acceptable to ask the lawyer about their fee structure, whether you’d be working with him or her directly or one of their associates and for their initial thoughts on the legal approach they would recommend for your particular situation. Many of Niagara’s larger employers offer some form of preliminary phone-based legal advice through their benefits programs. If you’re feeling unsure about what questions you should be asking, take advantage of this service to speak to a lawyer and have him/her help you draft a list of questions that reflect your situation.