Valerie J. Botter

Creative solutions for family transitions.

Finding a Good Divorce Lawyer

by Valerie J. Botter

Divorce and separation can be scary, confusing, upsetting, and expensive. Having a good divorce lawyer to advise you (and represent you if need be) is critical. So what qualities do you look for in a divorce lawyer?  Integrity, responsiveness, and attention to detail.  And of course experience and knowledge of the law are essential.

Integrity: Being a zealous advocate doesn’t mean being dishonest. Lawyers need to stand by their word and correct mistakes if and when they happen, rather than cover them up and blame someone else. Reputation is important, so if you’re thinking about retaining a particular attorney, ask around and see if any friends or colleagues know his reputation for integrity.

Responsiveness: A lawyer is of no use to you if you can’t get in touch with her. Take note of how your telephone calls are answered, how prompt the response is to your telephone or email inquiries, and how efficiently the process gets started. First impressions do count and as things get busier, you need to be able to reach your lawyer and get a responsive answer within a short period of time. I have often been hired as a second or even third lawyer, and the most common complaint that clients have about prior counsel is that their former attorney did not communicate with them.

Attention to Detail: Details count. Period. This is true at the initial consultation, in mediation, during negotiations, in terms of how settlement agreements are drafted, and at trial. Hire an attorney who will take the time to be thorough. It might seem expensive, but leaving loose ends untied in a settlement agreement and failing to adequately address important issues are ultimately far more costly.

And don’t be afraid to switch lawyers if you feel uncomfortable with your current counsel. Do meet with your lawyer face to face and express your concerns, but if the response and follow through are unsatisfactory, find new counsel.

May 2010

Email Valerie or call 413-586-8651.