Safeguarding your assets, your time with your children, and the shape of your future are life-critical issues that will be decided in your divorce. When the attorney you hire is a mismatch, your divorce — and all your goals — may end up derailed.
Simply put, hiring the wrong attorney is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in divorce. However, finding the right attorney can feel like overwhelming and confusing task. With so many attorneys to choose from, how can you be sure you’re not walking into a trap?
The first step in finding an attorney to represent you in your divorce is scheduling a consultation. Some attorneys and firms routinely charge for this initial meeting; others may offer a free consultation. What’s the difference between a free and paid consultation — and which one is best for your needs?
Here are 5 important points to consider.
1. Will You Meet With An Actual Attorney?
When law firms advertise “free consultations,” what the small print often conceals is that this free meeting is not with an actual attorney. You may end up speaking with an intake coordinator or sometimes a paralegal who is capable of only giving you basic level information and nothing specific to your case. In this situation, you may leave the meeting with very little real information about your rights and what to do next.
When you pay for an attorney consultation, you get what you pay for: guaranteed time with an attorney that is spent discussing and dissecting your situation, getting answers to your questions and learning your rights and getting an action plan for moving forward. For your divorce, look for a paid meeting with a family law attorney for specialized advice.
Because you’re paying for your meeting, this also gives you more say in which attorney you would like to work with on your case. The firm may make suggestions, or you ask for a specific attorney after reading more on the firm’s website or rating sites like Avvo.com.
2. Will You Get Strategy — And Not Sales?
At a free consultation, you are great risk for spending most of your time being subject to a sales pitch as to why you should sign up for the firm, and spend very little time talking about your specific concerns. In a free consultation, the firm dictates how the meeting will be run and what information will be shared. You are there for the purpose of getting a yes to sign on the dotted line. Sadly, depending on the firm, there could be very little interest in you beyond this.
In a paid consultation, you are paying for the attorney’s time and legal guidance, not their ability to sell you on anything. Your paid consultation should feel like a true strategy session where you receive a concrete action plan and next steps. Depending on your situation, you and the attorney may be able to complete certain tasks during the meeting (i.e., calling the courts to confirm dates and deadlines), helping you to jumpstart the process. Paying for an attorney’s time puts you in the driver’s seat to focus on creating a strategic vision for your divorce.
3. Will You Be Encouraged To Get Organized?
When you schedule a free consultation, often you are told to bring nothing with you and/or that you don’t need to prepare anything. While this can at first feel like a relief, these directions are often a red flag that nothing much will happen at your consultation to directly address your matter. Rather, you may receive vague and general information and the firm sales pitch as described above.
At a paid consultation, you can bring in pertinent paperwork and previous court orders and expect your attorney to go through these documents at the meeting. To have documents to produce, you need to get organized. This can go a long way towards helping you to “hit the ground running” in your matter. If you don’t have any paperwork yet in your divorce, you can formulate a list of your of questions and bring that with you.
4. Will You Get A Preview Of Billing & Payment Transparency?
When you don’t pay for an initial meeting, the billing policies of the firm remain shrouded. How much do they normally charge and what sorts of policies do they have for credit card payments and refunds should you need to postpone or reschedule your time? You may be in for a big surprise when it finally is time to pay.
When you opt for a consult that requires a payment, you can gain a much greater understanding of the firm’s costs in general and other policies around ease and reasonability of payments (and refunds), hourly rates, and invoicing. This can help you avoid sticker shock and make a more informed decision when hiring an attorney who fits your budget.
5. Will You Get To See The Attorney In Action?
As mentioned above, you may not even get to meet with an attorney during a free consultation, and if you do, it may only be in a limited way with the attorney giving you essentially a canned sales pitch. You won’t really get to know the attorney’s action plan and strategy for your case and what the attorney will do to help you reach your goals.
A paid consultation provides the very important advantage of seeing the attorney in action, listening and answering questions, laying out a clear strategy and walking you through concrete action steps. It’s this side of the attorney that will be make-or-break in your divorce. Seeing the attorney in action is only way for you to truly gauge if the attorney will be best fit for you. A paid consultation instantly gives you this pivotal information.
When done right, the process of getting a divorce is an investment in your future. The stakes are high, and you don’t want to make any mistakes. You can avoid the big one of hiring the wrong attorney by making a tactical decision to find the right one from the very start.
Need help with your divorce? Call today to schedule your confidential consultation with one of our divorce and family law attorney specialists. Start safeguarding your future today. Call 888-888-0919, or please click the button below.