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Searching for the right family law attorney

The State Bar offers a pamplet on what to look for when hiring a lawyer.  But more specifically, what should you look for when you want to hire a family law attorney?

First, you need someone who only practices family law.  If they practice in other areas (what I call desperation law) then they don't have a successful enough practice in family law to sustain them.  Take the hint.

Second, family law is a calling.  You want someone who doesn't just see your issue as a way to make a living. You want someone who is understands and cares about the gravity of your issues.

Third, you want a firm, not a solo practitioner or just a couple of guys hanging their shingle.  You need depth so that your team can accomplish a lot with vast resources.

Fourth, related to the third criterion, you want multiple billing levels, which means you want a firm with differently tiered attorneys and paralegals and support staff so you aren't paying full freight for an attorney to do the work when a paralegal is perfectly competent and costs far less.

The fifth criterion is proximity to the court house.  Family law attorneys are in court more often than almost every other kind of attorney.  That means a lot of trips to the court house.  An attorney that isn't proximate to the court house isn't in court that much. Again, take the hint.

The sixth criterion is the attorney's approach to the practice.  Do they advocate for a scorched earth policy where everyone is angry, fighting and spending huge sums on their attorneys or do they advocate for seeking a resolution that keeps your assets with you and preserves and perhaps improves your circumstances. Do they seek to increase the drama or do they attempt to reduce it.

Seventh and probably most important criterion, make sure your attorney's firm is so deep, so skilled, so prime in their practice that they have successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court.  Actually, that one is probably asking a little too much.

Michael Manely

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