Who should you choose as your lawyer?
One of the questions which I am frequently asked is some version of “Does it matter which lawyer I use,” or “What is the best way to select a lawyer for my Family Law case.” My answer to the first of those questions is along the lines of “probably” (depending on what is at stake in the case and how much agreement has already been made by the parties to that case). My answer to the second one is that a referral from a trusted friend, coworker, or colleague is usually, in my humble opinion, the best way to choose a doctor, accountant, plumber, roofer, or (yes) a lawyer.
If that personal referral from someone whom we know and trust is unavailable to us, then what strategy should we employ to find a good lawyer? Well, doesn’t it seem like the opinions of people who have used a lawyer’s services would be valuable to us? Most of us agree with the proposition that the best predictor of someone’s future behavior is his/her past behavior. Think about it: most of us know certain people in our lives who have been there for us when we needed them; and others, who have been less reliable. Don’t we feel like we “know” that the first group of people would be available to assist us if we needed help in the future? What about the second group: do we feel comfortable that they would have our backs?
Can you avoid a trial in a Family Law case? Most of us have seen movies and t.v. shows depicting contentious divorces or other Family Law cases. But is that the only way to resolve a disputed case of that type?
Thankfully, the answer is “no.” After more than two decades of “alternative dispute resolution” being encouraged by lawyers, the courts, and parties, it is now quite common to have even a contested case resolved without the contentiousness of a nasty court battle.
Of course, the court still must enter the required paperwork to give the resolution effect, but that can be done in a non-confrontational manner, after the parties have resolved their case.
So, what are these alternative dispute resolution procedures? Well, the simplest way to settle a case is just by talking and negotiating. Once the parties to a case have legal counsel to advise them on their options, and the likely outcomes if the case were to go to court, the parties can sometimes reach an agreement between themselves without any formal procedure being used. Of course, that is considerably more likely to occur if all parties are clean, sober, and mentally healthy. Narcissists and druggies are hard to have constructive conversations with.