These are the top four (4) mistakes people make when searching for a lawyer:
(1) Asking how long a lawyer has been a lawyer.
People often get caught up on the year the lawyer started practicing law. The length of time that has passed since the lawyer completed school does not mean the lawyer is experienced in the area of law or situations similar to yours. Some lawyers only take family law files occasionally and usually limited to low conflict matters. While this lawyer has been a lawyer “long enough” to be a senior lawyer, they may not have the experience you are looking for.
Better questions to determine relevant experience:
1. How many years have you been doing family law? Do you do any other areas of law?
2. How often do you work on family matters?
3. How many files have you had similar to mine?
(2) Requesting an aggressive lawyer.
It’s clear you would want a lawyer that will stand up for you. But an aggressive lawyer without proper skills may make your family matter worse. An aggressive lawyer may not have the skills necessary to handle sensitive matters and may end up making you feel attacked when you are vulnerable and relying on their help. You may also witness the aggressive lawyer blaming and bullying their staff. Is this the experience you are looking for? Or are you looking for an “assertive” lawyer that takes a more balanced approach?
It may be better choice to determine your goals instead of selecting personality characteristics when hiring a lawyer. For example:
1. I want a lawyer that will stop the lawyer from bringing up complaints that happened over two years ago instead of focusing on the current situation.
2. I want a lawyer that will not acknowledge the other parent’s malicious allegations without evidence.
(3) Failing to consider the prospective lawyers methods of communication.
This is the most important but yet overlooked aspects of picking a family law lawyer. If you are looking for a lawyer that can communicate by text message or respond to emails in a timely fashion, you may want to ask the lawyer if they are good with technology during the consultation. Some lawyers rely heavily on technology whereas others may still use paper files, phone calls and snail mail.
If you are not good with technology, you may want to make sure the lawyer will take other steps to contact you instead of sending emails to an account you may not be monitoring. Some firms may send drafts by email and you may run into issues working with the lawyer if you do not have internet or access to an computer. It is important to clearly communicate how you plan on communicating with your lawyer and working with them well before these issues occur.
You may also want to consider:
1. How long does it take to get an appointment to speak with this lawyer?
2. Is it possible to call and be transferred to the lawyer or are they always “unavailable?”
3. Will the lawyer acknowledge receipt of your emails or will you you be left guessing if the lawyer has received it?
(4) Attempting to bypass the assistant to communicate directly with the lawyer.
Your family matter and the details are not a secret between you and your lawyer. Communicate openly with the assistant and they may be able to get the ball rolling on your file sooner. If the assistant understands why your matter is urgent they can follow-up with the lawyer quicker than you calling and leaving a vague message stating something along the lines of “tell my lawyer I called and it’s urgent.” Unfortunately, people tend to claim their matter is urgent for things such as “the other party said their lawyer sent an email” or “the other party was 5 minutes late.” Without adequate details, it is hard to determine if you matter is actually urgent or if you are just being impatient. The better you can work with the assistant the easier it will be for the assistant to have your matter prioritized.
If you are looking for a lawyer in the Edmonton and surrounding areas, our team can refer you to an exceptional lawyer. Contact us today to discuss your options.