Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Choosing an Attorney: Should You Get a 2nd Opinion?
If, after talking with a prospective attorney, you feel uncomfortable with the attorney, you should definitely go see another lawyer before you hire one to represent you in a family law matter.
If you are considering using Collaborative Law to help resolve your family law issue, you need to have a trained Collaborative lawyer. If you visit with an attorney who says he or she does Collaborative Law, and that attorney says you shouldn't use the process, you should get a second opinion.
You should start with the understanding that Collaborative Law won't work for everyone or in every case. There may be legitimate reasons why it might be inappropriate, such as someone having serious emotional issues, one or both parties having unreasonable expectations or if one of the parties is untrustworthy, for example.
Sometimes, unfortunately, an attorney may claim to do Collaborative work just to draw in business, and then the attorney talks the client out of using the process. Trust your gut on this. If something doesn't quite feel right, go talk to another Collaborative attorney and get his or her opinion about the suitability of your case for Collaborative.
Warning Sign: There's a concern if the attorney tries to talk you out of using Collaborative Law, especially if you and your spouse have investigated it and jointly decided to give it a try. It's really suspicious if your spouse has already hired a Collaborative attorney.
What Can You Do? Ask some questions.
1. Ask if the attorney is a member of the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and/or a local practice group. An active Collaborative lawyer will probably be in at least two of the organizations.
2. Ask if the attorney has attended at least a 2-day basic training. If he or she hasn't, they aren't trained properly and probably aren't able to work in the process.
3. If the attorney has been to a 2-day training, ask when he/she last attended a Collaborative training. You want someone who stays current.
4. Ask how many Collaborative Law cases the attorney has handled. If none, one or two, you should talk with someone who is more experienced.
Caveat: Don't assume that an attorney who wants to use Collaborative Law in a case, but who has very few Collaborative cases completed, would be unable to competently represent you. That's not necessarily the case. Enthusiasm, current knowledge and the cooperation of the other professionals in the case will likely lead to a good result anyway.