Finding the perfect fit- Tips for selecting the right family lawyer 


Going through a divorce or child custody dispute is an incredibly stressful and emotional time. Having the right family lawyer by your side all the difference in navigating the complex legal system and getting the best possible and your family.  The first step is deciding what specific needs you have from a family lawyer based on the details of your case.  Do you anticipate your spouse will be adversarial or a settlement be reached? The lawyer you choose needs expertise in the specific family law issues you’re facing.   Ask the lawyer how long they’ve practiced family law and what percentage of their overall caseload is a divorce and custody case. You want someone doing this day in and day out, not dabbling in this complex area sporadically. Ideally, they should have at least 5 years’ experience in family law specifically.

Verify track record of results

Don’t just take the lawyer’s word on their toronto divorce law experts and custody track record. Ask for case references and samples of positive outcomes they’ve achieved for previous clients facing similar issues to you. For example, if child custody is important to you, you need to see examples of that lawyer securing favorable shared custody arrangements.  Even if you would prefer to settle your divorce or custody issues out of court, it’s still advantageous to hire a lawyer with strong litigation skills who your case successfully in front of a judge if negotiations fail. During your initial consultation, gauge how comfortable the attorney seems to discuss the possibility of going to trial if needed. Their confidence level in the courtroom makes a big difference.

Check the compatibility of communication styles

You want a lawyer who meets your needs, not just technically competent but also able to communicate clearly and patiently answer all your questions. Make sure during your initial meeting you see eye-to-eye on the best ways to reach each other, how often you’ll get case status updates, and your mutual expectations around response times. The last thing you need is frustrating miscommunications with your lawyer.

Compare billing rates and fee structures

Family lawyers have various fee structures – hourly, flat, or retainer – so be sure to ask upfront about total costs and get a written agreement. Hourly billing allows paying only for time spent while flat fees provide cost certainty. Retainers require an upfront lump sum payment from which expenses are deducted. Consider rate/fee structures against your budget constraints.  A lawyer’s professional reputation and ethical standards matter. Contact your state bar association to see if the lawyer has had any disciplinary complaints filed against them. Also, be sure to read online reviews from impartial third party sites to gauge client satisfaction levels.

Check their commitment to family law

Avoid lawyers who handle divorce and custody cases only occasionally among their varied legal work. You want an attorney well-versed in the nuances of family law and dedicated to staying on top of changes through continuing education. Ask about their ongoing training specific to family law and membership in professional family law organizations.

Meet with multiple candidates

Don’t just vet one lawyer. Take time to do initial consultations with at least 3 potential attorneys before deciding.  While credentials and experience matter, ultimately the most important criterion is having an attorney you trust, feel comfortable with, and are confident will fight for the most favourable case outcome for you. Go with your gut instincts during initial consultations about any concerns that give you pause or mismatches in working styles.

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