How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer
Litigating a family law case means sharing some very painful and personal information, so make sure whomever you hire is someone you trust. This is the main reason Longmont Family Law does free initial consultations; we want you to get to know your attorney before we start work on your case. I recommend you meet face-to-face and interview the candidates. Make sure the attorney you select has a similar communication style as you and will approach the case the way you want. Make sure the attorney communicates frequently and openly about your retainer. Longmont Family Law provides frequent invoices and discusses all billing at no-charge to the client. This way, you will know exactly where your money is going and stay in the loop on your case.
Family law attorneys vary considerably on how they practice. Some attorneys communicate weekly with their clients, while some will go months without checking in. Some attorneys believe you should file as many motions as possible into your case, while others believe discretion serves the client's needs more. Some attorneys use aggression and intimidation to try to reach settlement, while others communicate more respectfully with opposing parties.
At Longmont Family Law, we strongly stand up for our clients without bullying the other side. We conduct ourselves in a calm and professional manner in the courtroom and in negotiations without demeaning or insulting anyone. We use strategic discretion in filing motions. This means we explain all options to our clients (including the pros and cons of each) and respect the client's choice. We also pride ourselves on frequent communication with our clients.
In addition to finding someone you want to work with, we recommend asking questions like those listed below. We've included our responses for your reference. Feel free to contact us to schedule a free consultation to learn more.
How do you communicate about money?
At the beginning of your case, we sit down with you and go through our retainer agreement line-by-line to make sure you understand how retainers and billing work in our office. Our Managing Partner personally reviews every invoice and emails it to you with an explanation of how much is left in your account, when we think more money will be needed, and what was billed since the last invoice. If you have any questions or concerns about billing, you speak with our attorneys directly at no charge.
How will you communicate updates in the case?
This depends on the client, the information needing to be conveyed, and the schedule of the attorney. Some clients prefer emails to calls or vice versa. We promptly forward legal documents to our clients and make sure to reach out to discuss the more complicated aspects of the process. We want you to be on board for the entire process. When we're approaching a big step in your case (an upcoming hearing, deadline, or mediation), we prefer to meet with you in person.
How often do you personally (as opposed to your paralegals and support staff) speak with your clients on the phone?
At their request, we speak with our clients significantly more than the average attorney. We warn all of our clients that they are billed for phone calls, but we are always happy to speak with them over the phone. We speak with some clients several times per week; some we speak with once a month. The legal system is complicated and not user-friendly. In our experience, clients really appreciate someone taking the extra time to explain things to them. This enables you to make informed decisions and emotionally prepare yourself for upcoming events. Sometimes our work load prevents us from responding right away, but we almost always return calls within two business days.
How do you prepare your clients for trial?
We sit down and walk through how the attorney expects the trial to go. This includes walking through the questions we will ask on direct examination and what we anticipate the opposing party or attorney will ask on cross-examination. We want you to walk into the courtroom feeling as supported and prepared as possible. We will also go over what we expect from the other side. If you don't want to pay for this in-depth review before a hearing, there are less time-intensive (and therefore more affordable) options. Almost all of my clients, however, prefer the walkthrough.
How comfortable are you in a courtroom?
Very. Our Managing Partner learned trial advocacy from some of the nation's leading litigators at The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. She also spends a significant amount of time observing trials through her work as Managing Attorney for the Lawyers for Victims Program with Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence. Last but not least, she has personally tried dozens of cases in court and feels very comfortable with her trial advocacy skills. That being said, we try our best to obtain a favorable settlement for our clients. Most clients are happier with the outcome of their case when they settle and there are some significant legal advantages to settling (vs. having a judge rule on your case following a trial). Our clients can rest assured that when we recommend they take a settlement proposal, we're doing so out of their legal best interest and not fear of the courtroom.
How do you prepare your clients for mediation?
This is a major step in any case. We'll sit down with you and go through every outstanding issue in the case to determine our stance and strategy. We have heard horror stories of clients feeling unprepared for this process and walking out of mediation not knowing what they signed in a settlement agreement. We want you to think through all your options as best as possible before we go into the mediation room and definitely before signing anything.
How do you communicate with opposing counsel or opposing parties?
Respectfully. We treat all parties, attorneys, judges, clerks, and witnesses with respect. This is not always easy (we've literally been screamed at, threatened, and called very nasty names), but it is important to us. We treat other people with respect and courtesy. This does not mean we let people take advantage of us or our clients. We believe there is a difference between conflict and disagreement. We can disagree about something without demeaning, insulting, or bullying the other person. This means we often discuss a contentious issue with an opposing party or attorney, and will end up saying "it looks like we're not in agreement about this. I think we're just going to have to let a judge decide."
We love what we do and genuinely like discussing our work with the community. Please feel free to contact us today to learn more about our firm.