Does Your Attorney Know What He is Doing?

Does your divorce lawyer know what their doing? How experienced are they experienced in family law?


Does your attorney know what he or she is doing? Transcript

Hi. I’m Lee Rosen. Does your lawyer know what he or she is doing?

We represented a guy recently who hired another lawyer before we got involved in the case. He’s a smart guy, and I don’t really know how he let this happen to him. But he went out, and he hired an attorney who he found on the Internet. The attorney was a young guy, seemed credible, seemed impressive. Nice-looking young man, dressed in a suit, sat in an office leather chair, looked like a real lawyer.

The problem is that the lawyer had only been out of law school for a few months, a very short time. Now I suspect he didn’t know a whole lot yet about practicing law. He was pretty good at creating a website and writing a biography that made himself sound impressive. It didn’t mention that he had just graduated from law school. It didn’t mention that he didn’t have much experience. But there was lots of language there that made him sound like he was a pretty good guy. And for whatever reason, that website ranked pretty well in Google, so our client found him.

Now our client looked around the office and saw a nice-looking space. He didn’t pay attention to the fact that there was no support staff, that there was no older lawyer there to mentor the younger lawyer. He didn’t really think about all of those things. He was thinking about his problem, like most of us are, and he just needed some help. And this young guy seemed like the right guy for him. Things didn’t go very well, and that’s how we ended up involved in the case.

There are some red flags you can look for, some things that will alert you so that you’ll know before you hire a lawyer whether that lawyer knows what they’re doing.

So the first red flag that I always pay attention to is the free consultation. Now I’ll tell you, I love free anything. I revel in my free breakfast when I’m at a Hampton Inn. I’m all about free. But a free consultation from a lawyer usually isn’t a good thing. Now there are certain practice areas where it’s the tradition, like in personal injury situations. But in family law, when you’re getting a divorce, a free consultation ought to be something that scares you off. It ought to be a big warning to you. Pay attention to that. If you see it, worry about it.

Another red flag is the lawyer who is a dabbler, the lawyer who’s involved in all sorts of practice areas. You look at their website, and you’ll notice they’re doing criminal law, and they’re doing personal injury, and they’re doing family law and maybe business law. When you see a lawyer doing more than one thing, you know they’re not drilling down and really becoming an expert in that thing. And that ought to serve as a red flag for you. That ought to be something you worry about, something you see as a warning sign.

And then finally, you ought to trust your gut. When you leave the meeting with the lawyer, you ought to ask yourself, “Do I feel like I understand things now or do I feel like I’m more confused than I was when I walked in?” If you’re feeling like that just didn’t go well or “I just don’t know what my rights are now,” that ought to be a red flag for you.

So be paying attention. Look for these red flags. Don’t fall into a situation because of a slick website or a slick biography. Make sure the lawyer that you hire knows what they’re doing. So be careful before you make this decision about who to hire.

Read reviews online. There are more and more sites where attorneys are reviewed. Check them out. Talk to your friends and find out from them what they know about the attorney you’re talking to. A really good source of information is other attorneys in the legal community. Ask them about the lawyer that you’re dealing with.

But finally-and this is sort of the ultimate test-trust your response. See if you really feel comfortable with this person. Make sure you feel like there’s a connection and that you can trust this person to deal with your most sensitive issues. Be cautious. This is not a casual decision. Make this decision carefully, and you’ll be okay.

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