Why do they bury lawyers thirty feet underground?
Because deep down, we're all good people.
We lawyers get a bad reputation. Once in a while, it's deserved. There are, however, a lot of good attorneys out there. So how do you tell the good from the bad? You might want to start with a directory. Contact a few attorneys and discuss the following issues with them.
Don’t fall for the billboards that say “$199.99 Divorce!” A lawyer isn’t a mattress; you shouldn’t go shopping in the clearance bin. That being said, look for a lawyer with an upfront fee structure. That $199.99 probably doesn’t include court filing fees or evaluation of assets and retirement accounts. If your lawyer can’t give you a straight answer on what to expect fee-wise, move on to the next name in the directory.
Beware of the Big Talker
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” He was speaking about foreign policy, but it applies to attorneys as well. Generally, you’ll want to avoid attorneys that make big and unrealistic promises, such as “You’ll get everything!”. Also, try to get an attorney with an attitude that matches the case. If you and your soon-to-be ex are contentious, and he’s hired a bulldog, you might want to do the same. On the other hand, if the divorce is amicable, check out attorneys that specialize in mediation.
The Past Ain’t the Past
How long has your attorney been practicing family law? It is his or her sole specialty? Do they have any record of misconduct or complaints with the Illinois State Bar? These are all issues you should investigate before signing on the dotted line. For a complicated, contentious divorce, you’ll want an attorney with a ton of experience and a clean record. If it’s just paperwork to be filled and filed, someone with less experience might save you a bit of coin.
This is just the beginning. It is important to know your attorney and his or her background, experience, style, and fee structure before deciding on your representative.
- Find a Chicago Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- 10 Things Divorce Attorneys Won’t Say (SmartMoney)
- The Mediated Divorce: Is it Right For You? (FindLaw’s Chicago Family Law Blog)
- The Quickie Divorce … Freedom via Uncontested Dissolution (FindLaw’s Chicago Family Law Blog)