In most family law disputes, from divorce and child custody to domestic abuse, choosing the right legal representation is essential. Family law more than most other bodies of law is emotional as well as substantive, and the right lawyer will be able to counsel clients effectively in both areas. In most communities, there are an abundance of family law firms and lawyers. Narrowing down the selection can be daunting, but is a manageable task when armed with time, research, and a bit of know-how. Identifying the type of lawyer you need, meeting with law firm representatives, and getting a feel for how different law firms work are the first steps to finding the right representation for your particular situation.
One of the easiest ways to narrow down the selection of family law firms is to ask advice from friends, family, or former clients. A law firm with a good reputation is a good place to start. If you do not know anyone who has used the services of family law firms, a good way to identify firms that might be of assistance is to contact your local bar or law licensing association. In most jurisdictions, lawyers and law firms are required to be registered with the governing bar association. Bar associations may not be able to provide direct referrals to firms, but they will almost always provide community members with lists of firms registered to practice in any given area.
Family law firms and lawyers practice in a range of domestic matters, however, which makes selecting a firm with strength in your particular field very important. If you are trying to recoup child support payments, for instance, the family law firm with the best reputation or the best client reviews may not be the best for you if that firm specializes in no-contest divorces or property dispute litigation. The best family law legal firms for you will have experience in handling disputes like yours.
Distinguishing “the best” from “the best for you” is typically a matter of investigation. Look into a firm’s history and the kind of cases upon which they have build their practice. Most of the time, this information is available on a firm’s website, or by calling the family law legal firm directly and inquiring. Based on this initial review, make a list of family law firms that seem like good matches, and make appointments for initial consultations. Most of the time, firms will provide initial consultations for free, but be sure to ask.
When you attend your meetings, come prepared with a list of questions. You will need to be ready to discuss your particular problem with a family law attorney, but you will also want to learn about the law firm’s approach and philosophy. Understanding the firm’s costs and billing structure is also important. Most of all, though, you will want to get a sense of how well your get along with the family law lawyer or lawyers your meet. A personal rapport with your legal team can go a long way in making your family law dispute go smoothly.