Things to Consider When Hiring a Family Law Lawyer

A family law lawyer specializes in matters relating to issues that surround the family. These can include marriage, divorce, child support, spousal alimony, guardianship, adoption, domestic violence and child abuse.

Choosing a family law lawyer is an important decision, especially when dealing with child abuse and domestic violence. These legal issues are highly-charged events that require attorneys who are well-versed in domestic relations law and child advocacy.

Divorce can also be an emotionally-volatile arena that requires lawyers who can help both parties work through their differences while obtaining a fair settlement. When children are involved it is important to work with attorneys who will fight for the rights of minor children to ensure adequate child support is provided.

Issues related to family law often require clients to work closely with their chosen lawyer. It is best to determine what qualities you prefer before interviewing attorneys. Do you prefer a male or female lawyer? Do you require an aggressive attorney or one who remains calm? Do you need a lawyer with years of experience of would a recent law school graduate suffice?

It can be helpful to create a list of questions, concerns, and the desired outcome. Organize all records pertaining to the legal issue. For example, divorce lawyers will require financial records, real estate deeds, automobile titles, current and previous years’ tax returns, and information surrounding minor children.

It can be beneficial to interview three or more attorneys to determine which is best suited for your needs. Most law firms offer gratis meet-and-greet consultations while others assess a minimal fee. When arranging appointments inquire about initial consultation fees and what documents should be brought to the meeting.

During the meeting it is important to determine cost estimates. Family law lawyers normally require clients to provide an upfront retainer. This typically ranges between 25- and 50-percent of expected costs.

Legal fees are usually assessed at an hourly rate, but some cases are charged as a flat fee. Cases requiring extensive research and court appearances are typically billed hourly. Cases involving minimal work, such as a legal name change, are billed at a flat rate.

Law firms also assess backend fees to cover the cost of phone consultations, court filing fees, copying and faxing documents, and postage fees. Some attorneys deduct these costs from the retainer, while others remit monthly invoices.

The majority of family law lawyers require payment at the time services are rendered. However, some will allow clients to develop a payment plan. It is important to determine payment schedules to ensure you can comply. When payment plans are allowed, it is smart to obtain the plan in writing so that all parties understand payment amounts and due dates.

Individuals who require services from a family law lawyer, but cannot afford legal fees may qualify for pro bono services. Much depends on earned income and circumstances surrounding the case.

If possible, obtain family law lawyer referrals from family or friends. This can minimize time spent searching for or consulting with attorneys. Those unable to obtain referrals can utilize the Internet or telephone directories to locate law firms.

Another source for locating reputable attorneys is the American Bar Association website at abanet.org. The ABA does not offer recommendations, but instead publish a list of nationwide family law lawyers who are in good standing with the organization.

Starting a Law Firm, Moving to a New State

Starting a law firm can be tough. Trying to build your new law firm can be even tougher. Starting a law practice completely from scratch in a new jurisdiction could be fatal.

Many times, people starting their own law firm will leave an old firm with a bevy of client who they had represented under the old firm’s moniker. This is a perfectly acceptable way to start a new law practice. It is done many times and it will continue to be done. Think about it – if you already have a client base (or “book of business”) intact, you don’t need to worry so much about marketing and client development. Your only real worries initially are setting up a new corporate structure, a new office and the vagaries that go with that, malpractice insurance, and general institutional kind of work. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t easy, but it appears much more doable when you know you have clients who are going to pay for those things.

However, moving to a brand new state with no clients AND trying to start your own law firm, is a whole different ball game. Not only do you have to worry about the institutional kinds of things every lawyer starting a law firm has to worry about, you also need to worry about how you are going to pay for this stuff while you build a client base. The very idea of it would discourage even the most ambitious man.

This article is not meant to discourage, though, it is meant to enlighten. When moving to a new state to start a law firm, you, of course, must be licensed in that particular jurisdiction first. Once you are licensed, the game is essentially on. The name of the game is marketing – something nobody teaches you in law school. (As an aside, this is where a joint MBA/JD degree would really come in handy).

So, how do you market your new law firm when you are moving to a new state? Simple, you get out there and hustle-n-flow. Another name for it is “networking”. In order to be successful in any business, let alone starting a law firm, you have to network and create a network. After all, starting a law firm is all about people and connections. Your clients connect with you. You connect with the court and court staff, including the judge or jury. Your business colleagues connect with you. How do you connect, again, get out there with your name and do good work. Be organic. Plant a seed and make it grow. Sound tough? It is.

It takes time and effort and failure. One of the hardest things an entrepreneur is faced with is failure. But, failure can be a good thing if you make it work for you instead of against you. An entrepreneur learns from failure and turns it into a positive. Life is about experiencing, learning, and failing – and then getting back up again.

So, if you think you have it in you to accept failure and keep on truckin’, you may be ready to move to a state and start and build a law firm.

Where Did Our Business Laws and Regulations Come From – How Have They Changed?

The Business Laws in our nation and our regulations have become so complex they seem to be choking the viability of not only our court system, but also adding layers of laws to companies to the point of suffocation.

The bureaucracy is not only in government, but it has reached all levels of business small, medium and large. Of course, some rules of the game are needed to help our economic machine with standardization.

But, with all the case law, written laws and lawsuits, the laws no longer serve the purpose of allowing business to know in advance what to expect or give them adequate measure to dictate policies within their companies.

One thing that I have noticed is that if you pick up an old business law book prior to 1940, well, there is no much in it. It’s pretty simple and down to earth. When reading through the chapters you’ll find that it all makes sense, it’s all traceable and you can find meaning.

Today things are much different. I would advise any MBA student or individual looking to get into business law to read old business law books and text books. In fact, let me recommend a very good one to you that I have in my own personal library:

“A Text Book of Law and Business” by William H. Spencer; McGraw-Hill Book Company Incorporated; New York, NY; 1938.

If you ever find yourself asking the questions; 1.) Where Did Our Business Laws and Regulations Come From or; 2.) How Have Our Business Laws Changed Over the Years? Then just reading through this work will shed some light on the subject. So, think on it.