Searching for a divorce attorney can be an overwhelming task. Lawyers’ advertisements show up on television, radio, newspaper, and everywhere online. So how do you sift through all that information to find the right attorney for you?
Many people start looking at online reviews to find an attorney. While this is an excellent starting point, it is only the first step in finding the right attorney for you.
There are many “attorney review” websites online, and if you Google any generic search phrase for divorce lawyer reviews, you will find a plethora of sites designed to get you to click on their site for those reviews. The top sites for this purpose are Yelp, Avvo, Lawyers.com, lawyerratingz, and other similar platforms. Many divorce attorneys post their client reviews on their website as well.
With so many review sites and lawyer reviews, which ones do you trust?
While it is helpful to examine online attorney reviews, consider that attorney reviews are often manipulated and seldom provide a complete picture of a divorce lawyer’s abilities and competence.
Here are two reasons that divorce attorney online reviews should be carefully examined and weighed before you select an attorney to represent you in a divorce case:
All divorce attorney review websites can be manipulated despite the claim that their platforms ensure only legitimate reviews. For example, Yelp advertises that their proprietary software ensures only legitimate reviews. However, we know websites like Yelp can be manipulated because of our experience in dealing with divorce attorneys that only have positive reviews. We have litigated cases against many attorneys with stellar online reviews that are totally incompetent.
- There are companies that divorce attorneys pay to help ensure a good “online reputation”. The function of these companies is to generate only the positive reviews for a law firm and mitigate the bad reviews.
So how do you find the right matrimonial lawyer if it is difficult to trust online reviews? Here are three steps to follow:
Give the reviews a cursory review. Online reviews are certainly helpful, but take them with a grain of salt. For example, there is no divorce attorney that should not have an occasional bad review. A divorce attorney’s job is to advocate for their client during the most difficult time in that person’s life, where emotions are raging. Even the best divorce lawyers cannot “win” every case, and people get upset. However, if a family law attorney has a significant number of negative reviews, that should be a red flag.
- Look at the accreditations that a divorce lawyer holds. Are they a certified specialist? Are they a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)? Are they a “Super Lawyer”? Are they listed as a volunteer attorney in their local court and trusted by judges? These accolades show that the attorney has been peer rated as opposed to client rated. Generally, peer ratings are far more reliable than client ratings.
- Interview more than one divorce attorney before deciding who will represent you. Most divorce attorneys offer some sort of free consultation, which is designed for both the client and attorney to get to know each other. You will know immediately when you connect with the right attorney. Look at their office. Communicate with their staff. Talking face-to-face with a divorce attorney is very helpful to help you figure out whether they are competent and how they will handle your case.