Dana McKee and Brett Watson, family lawyers in Baltimore, answer:
Getting started is always the hardest step in any process, especially when that process involves resolving often intensely emotional disputes. Going through a divorce requires planning and communication. That is why it is important to find the right attorney to help you.
In terms of finding an attorney, your best resources are the people around you. Talk to those you know and trust. Referrals are the most trustworthy source of information to find an attorney.
You can also look at ratings websites or professional organizations to find a divorce attorney in your area. For example, Avvo.com is one such resource that lists attorneys by practice area and location. It also provides ratings and reviews from actual clients and other attorneys.
Once you find potential attorneys in your area, it is important to choose one with a compatible skill set that matches your goals for resolving the dispute. Here are a few tips on finding the right attorney for you and your unique situation.
- Experience. To start, choose an attorney who specializes in family law, and divorces in particular. Divorces can be complicated, and it is important to have someone with experience in navigating the various issues that come up throughout the process.
- Communication. Most importantly, you must feel comfortable with the attorney you choose because of the personal nature of divorces and the sensitive information you will need to discuss. An attorney is a professional confidant. You need to feel personally compatible with your attorney or it will be difficult to be completely truthful and honest about your situation. You should meet and interview an attorney before you hire him or her. Bring a list of questions if you feel more comfortable, and make sure you get answers.
- Personal Attention. When you explain your situation, find out if you share common goals and the same vision for a resolution. It is important for your attorney to listen to you and value your input.
- Strategy. Finally, choose a style of conflict resolution that is right for you. Some attorneys take a more collaborative approach and seek to negotiate. They can diffuse the tension and get to the bottom of issues quickly so you can move on. On the other hand, there are attorneys who will fight aggressively and want to litigate, which takes longer and is more costly. Most often, clients prefer a strident, but not antagonistic attorney, focused on creating a fresh start, not belaboring the past.