Hiring the right family law attorney for your divorce or other family law proceeding is important. The right lawyer can mean the difference between getting the custody rights you want, protecting the assets you want to keep, and getting the financial support you need. Not all lawyers are created equal. Continue reading for a discussion of some of the red flags to watch out for when choosing a lawyer and during the pendency of your matter. Call an experienced Englewood divorce and family law attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
Obscure or Imprecise Billing Practices
Attorneys have a responsibility to their clients to not only bill clients only for services provided but also to provide bills that clearly indicate what work the attorney is charging for. Attorneys who provide imprecise or opaque bills that bury the actual work they perform may be trying to charge clients for work not actually performed, or double-charging different clients for the same work. They may simply be churning out busy work to generate bills without actually progressing your interests. Make sure your family lawyer tells you how much their services cost and makes it clear what they are doing for you to incur those charges.
Lack of Communication
In your initial consultation, you should discuss your preferred method of communication and that of your attorney. That includes both whether you like to discuss matters over the phone, via email, or in person, and how much you can expect to be included in the daily proceedings of your matter. While you don’t necessarily need a long catch-up meeting every day (there is likely not much to report and you will just be incurring unnecessary attorney fees), you should consider it a red flag if you don’t hear from your lawyer for months or if they regularly fail to respond to your emails or calls. Establish your expectations and those of your attorney at the outset, and make sure they hold to those expectations.
Unprofessional and Inefficient
You want an attorney on your side who projects an air of professionalism and confidence. If they are constantly late to meetings, if they seem unkempt and ill-prepared, or if they otherwise seem incapable of coming across like a seasoned professional, you might want to reconsider your choice in a representative. Unprofessional attorneys make mistakes, and mistakes lose cases.
Your attorney is supposed to be your advocate, in and out of the courtroom. While you don’t want a lawyer who paints an unrealistically rosy picture of a tough battle ahead, you should have a lawyer who seems to be fighting the fight for you. A lawyer who is overly negative, complaining, or condescending is likely to not only make your conversations uncomfortable and unpleasant; their negative attitude is likely to adversely affect your case. Find a lawyer who solves problems, not a lawyer who becomes your problem.
It’s harder to define with precision, but personality matters. Divorces can take months or years to complete, and your lawyer is your most important advocate throughout that time. Attorneys can be a great source of advice throughout a divorce or other family law proceeding, for more than strictly legal matters. You’ll be spending a lot of time together, and you’ll be relying on their representation and their advice for some of the most important, and sensitive, aspects of your life. Simply put: If you don’t get along, the process can be much more stressful and challenging. Work with an attorney you can trust and that you can stand to be around.
Lack of Results
You can’t expect your lawyer to win a motion or argument in court every week. Often, cases will go weeks or months without anything in particular being “decided;” the matter is simply progressing as each side builds their case. However, if you find that your attorney consistently fails to produce results when it does matter–they can’t get the evidence you need for your case, they lose out on custody arguments, they can’t get you the assets and property that you want in the divorce–then it may be time to look for a new lawyer. Look at their previous cases, and talk to previous clients if possible, to see if your chosen attorney has a track record of success.
Trusted Advice and Representation for New Jersey Family Law Matters
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151/