Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Considerations in Hiring a Domestic Lawyer

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

There are a huge number of variables to consider before hiring an attorney for any legal matter, and when it comes to a matter of domestic law, that consideration is especially important. This particular area of law is quite complicated and can be confusing, and there are certain criteria that prospective clients should be aware of before hiring an attorney for a divorce, modification, or custody issue. I have practiced in the domestic arena for thirteen years and have handled over twelve hundred domestic matters during that time.  Let me give you some basic advice that hopefully will benefit the interests of justice for yourself and your child.

First, I would like to make very clear that there is no one specific set of rules that dictate what makes a competent, ethical, and able attorney, one who will ensure that your rights are protected under any one set of circumstances.  In my opinion, all successful attorneys share one common attribute – they have the proper skillset to perform their job.  In other words, the best domestic/family law attorneys are always on the offense.  The general theory and belief amongst the best domestic attorneys is that as long as you are attacking the opposition, you are winning. Keeping them on the defense makes them unable to use their time to attack you.  It is always better to be on the offensive, and it is very difficult in any circumstance to score points with the court when you constantly have to defend allegations from the opposition.  This is not to say that frivolous accusations are heralded or met with favor from the court; however, in any domestic scenario, there are only so many angles at which to bring valid factual allegations against your opponent in order to gain favor with the court and to demonstrate with the court that you are in fact on the “high ground” in terms of the legal merits of your custody or divorce case.

I would highly suggest that anyone searching for a domestic attorney seek one who doesn’t “wear too many hats” – in other words, one who isn’t a proverbial jack-of-all-trades.  The reason I say this is that in Chancery Court we often see attorneys who handle car wrecks, DUI’s, felony criminal matters, and practically anything and everything else they can get their hands on in order to pay the bills.  I strongly advise against hiring an attorney who wears too many hats.  It’s possible for an attorney to be competent and able to practice in two or more different areas effectively; however, your bets are best hedged when you hire an attorney whose practice focuses on a more specific practice area. For comparison, would you entrust your health or the health of a loved one to a thoracic surgeon who is also a vascular surgeon, an oral surgeon, a family practitioner and a plastic surgeon? There is no way he or she could have mastered so many areas, all of which are vastly different and require vastly different skillsets. And whether it be medicine or law, the advice is no different: leave the “jack-of-all-trades” for the rural areas that have few options when it comes to either profession.

The last bit of advice I would give anyone seeking an attorney for a divorce or child custody matter is to look at the amount of experience the attorney has in that realm.  I have occasionally run across attorneys who have practiced for four or five years, who are competent and who, at the very least, do a sufficient job in representing their clients.  However, I would caution that seven to eight years of experience should be considered the standard prerequisite for having mastered the nuances of the case law and statutes which permeate domestic litigation. An attorney’s experience is invaluable and crucial in helping you to obtain the best result for your own unique circumstances.

If you would like to speak with us regarding your domestic matter, be it divorce, custody, modification, or contempt in Chancery Court, please give us a call at (601) 573-7429 and we will be glad to schedule a consultation.