choose carefully


It is one thing to lose a case because of the circumstances beyond your control such as judge disliking you. It makes a huge difference if you know in your heart that there was nothing your lawyer could have done after trying his absolute best. But it is another when you lose your case because you had an incompetent or weak attorney.


I want my family law attorney to be a good litigant. If I'm about to pay a retainer to someone, I'd like to visit him in court, during his performance in front of a judge fighting for his client. That's when I'll know if this guy or gal is worth the money on that retainer and his hourly fee which is anywhere from $250 to $875 or thereabout. As far as I am concerned hiring a lawyer without seeing him perform is equivalent to buying a car without test driving it.

I want my lawyer to be quick on his feet. It is very disappointing to see your family law attorney testifying on your behalf and being put on the spot by the other party's lawyer, even at $250 per hour. But, it is a killer to see your lawyer being put on the spot by the other party who represents himself. The pain exacerbates if your lawyer charges you an hourly rate that is on the higher end.


I want my family law attorney to be a good strategist. I'm impressed when I hear that we can get this and that. But explain to me how you are going to accomplish this. I have been around the block couple of times and would like to be in the loop.


I hate to see family law attorneys penny pinch clients. Charging for every quick phone call, email or fax does not make a good impression. I realize lawyers are busy helping others and this is business but don't make me feel as if I am only a cash cow. I know a case where a friend of mine hired a lawyer who emailed her a welcome message and charged her for it. I think this guy would have been out of my life that same minute. And, please, do return my calls.


Family Law attorneys should be psychologically and psychiatrically aware. I don't expect family law attorneys to have a PHD or MD but at the rates they charge they better know everything about PAS. This is family law after all and custody is almost always a huge part of it.


I want to see that my family law attorney cares about my case. I don't expect him to hold my hand through the trial but show some empathy to what your client is going through. I know it's about the money at the end of the day but nevertheless...


Some people may think that my approach is too anal-retentive. Not if you know how much it costs to replace a lawyer. A trial that lasts a year may easily run you around $70,000 if your attorney's rate is about $400 per hour. And this is not an aggressive litigation which may not even include testimony of expert witnesses. So, anal-retentive? I don't think so. If you do not subscribe to this approach, do not complain when you run out of money to pay your attorney's fees and about to lose custody and visitations with your children.

I am not suggesting that in order to select a good family law attorney you have to do all of the above. Exercise your good judgement and do what is best for you. These are some of the steps that I would take to choose a lawyer.


Not all the family law attorneys are created equal. There are some decent ones out there that genuinely care about what they do and can truly make a positive effect in you case. Please, let us know who and where they are by writing your reviews on our website.


Max Shtirlitz...