choosing an attorneyChoosing an attorney is a critical decision and not to be taken lightly. Equally if not more important is who your spouse chooses to have as their attorney. You can follow all the steps in this series of posts on choosing an attorney but if your spouse doesn’t do the same thing or something similar the likelihood of a successful cooperative or possibly collaborative divorce process is significantly reduced. This means an increased chance of litigation or at least a contentious process, which will be at your expense and your family’s expense. If you are like most of us, you will want to keep as much of your hard earned dollars in your family. In an ideal world, which we know exists only in our minds, the two attorneys not only know each other but have worked on cases together representing opposing clients and have achieved settlements that both spouses can live with. I will close this post with some basic questions you may want to consider asking attorneys when doing your research and interviewing. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list. Add your own questions you deem important.
  • Do you only work on divorce cases or do you practice other areas of law? If not exclusively divorce work, what percentage of your work is handling divorces?
  • How long have you been working with divorce cases?
  • How do you approach handling a divorce case? Tell me how you would proceed with a divorce case like mine.
  • How many divorce cases do you typically handle in a year?
  • What divorce processes do you use?
  • During the past 3 years approximately what percentage of your cases have been:
Litigation___________% Cooperative_________% Collaborative________% Ask them what specific training they have had in collaborative divorce and if they are a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. *The percentages above will give you a good idea of the divorce process used more frequently by the attorney. NOTE: If they don’t know about cooperative or collaborative divorce processes they likely practice primarily in a litigation manner.
  • Would other people be working on my case with you? If so what are their qualifications and how is their time billed?
  • What is your hourly rate and how do you bill for it? What exactly is billed besides your time? I.E. travel, copies, long distance calls, emails, etc.
  • Do you require a retainer? If so, what is the amount? If I decide not to work with you will it be completely refunded?
  • What do you expect from me as your client?
  • What should I expect from you as my attorney?
Following these suggestions will not guarantee you a successful relationship with a divorce attorney, but I believe it will help increase the likelihood of that happening.  Remember, do your homework, research, interview, reflect and, as I mentioned, sometimes you just have to go with your gut. If you need/want help finding a divorce attorney in the Minneapolis/St. Paul seven county metro areas, feel free to contact me. I know and have worked with many of them. I wish you all the best as you continue this journey and major life transition.

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