Should you hire an attorney that only handles family law cases? The question seems like a no brainer. Truth be told, it kind of is. We have the written in the past about how to find the best divorce lawyer for your case.
In this article we are going to focus on one way that will help you get off to a good start. That "way" is simply discovering whether the divorce lawyer you intend to hire only handles divorce and family law cases or has a general legal practice where he or she handles criminal law, bankruptcy, personal injury and/or immigration matters.
Let's take a trip back in time.
Many years ago, general practitioners were very common. Lawyers would handle many different areas of law including family law. This worked at that time because the laws were less complex, there were far fewer lawyers, court dockets were not as overloaded as they are today and the idea of specialization or a focus in one area of law really wasn't necessary for an attorney to be effective.
Today, that has changed and few areas of law are more affected by this change than divorce.
Lawyers pulled in many different directions by their practice areas will be less effective
Think about what a criminal lawyer, personal injury lawyer, immigration or bankruptcy attorney has to go through.
Each of these areas of law depends on volume and yanks attorneys in different directions.
A personal injury lawyer does not get paid until the end of the case. That means most personal injury lawyers have to have a high volume of cases to be able to sustain their legal practice.
Criminal law attorneys typically work on flat fee cases. That means they are not paid at an hourly rate but rather a set flat fee rate that covers most of the court appearances. This also means that criminal law attorneys have to have a high volume of cases and are often required to be in court and out of the office.
The same is true with most bankruptcy and immigration attorneys. These two areas of law push and pull lawyers into federal court and in front of immigration officers, respectively.
How is a lawyer that practices any of these different areas of law supposed to have time for the intricate, often complex, and high maintenance nature of family law? How are you ever supposed to get a hold of your lawyer for your divorce case if he or she is constantly in different courts and handling different areas of law?
That is the fundamental problem with hiring a lawyer for your family law case that does not handle only family law or practices these different areas of law in addition to family law. How do you find this out?
It is simple. You ask.
"Do you only handle family law cases?"
When you first speak to the attorney, assuming an attorney will speak with you and not a paralegal or secretary, ask the attorney the question, "do you only handle family law cases" or "what other areas of law do you handle?"
If the answer to that question includes any of the above areas that I have mentioned, you should conduct your due diligence and determine whether or not it is wise to hire that attorney for your divorce case.
If you notice that the attorney you are considering is a solo practitioner (which means it is a one lawyer law office, possibly with a secretary) then chances are pretty good that a lot of your communication throughout the case will not be with the attorney that you hire but with the attorney's assistants.
You can of course figure out why this can be a problem because only lawyers are permitted to give legal advice (and contrary to what happens a lot in family law, it is not an exception to that rule) and you may not get very good direction, strategy or status updates from a secretary or paralegal.
Does that mean that you should never hire an attorney who handles other areas of law for your divorce case? Of course not. This is just one factor, although a darn important one, you should take into consideration when looking for the right or the best divorce lawyer.
Our divorce lawyers only handle family law matters and the great majority of those are in Orange County
Our lawyers are reasonably priced and we are focused on successful results. That gives us an advantage and an edge over many lawyers because we put our time, our hearts, and entire focus into one area of law - family law - and assisting people just like you.