The Single Most Critical Question You Should Ask Any Family Law Attorney You May Retain.
I’ve spent most of my career in family law, and I have seen and heard of some shady practices used by family law attorneys. This short blog post could save you a lot of frustration and wasted money. So, what is the magic question you should ask? Well, before I tell you, realize that there are lots of questions you should ask a family law attorney you are considering retaining. I’ve written a separate blog post about it which you can find on my website. Without further ado, here is the most important question you might ever ask to a family law attorney you are considering:
“Unless there is a true emergency, will you promise me as a condition of my retaining you that YOU will personally—not remotely—appear at all significant court proceedings in my case?”
The only correct answer to this question is “yes.” Now, does that mean that attorneys who employ associate attorneys are all unethical? No, not all of them. In family law, associates are great for generating paperwork and making relatively insignificant court appearances. For example, a good use of an associate attorney would be as follows:
The Petitioner provided some documents as part of the discovery process, but the Respondent’s attorney argues that documents are being withheld. The Respondent’s attorney files a “Motion to Compel Further Responses.” Now, the Petitioner’s attorney must respond to the motion and appear in court to argue the motion.
This is the sort of task an associate attorney could handle. The client realizes a benefit because the associate’s hourly rate is lower than the partner’s hourly rate. Furthermore, the hearing on the motion to compel is not particularly important in the grand scheme of things.
On the other hand, if there is a hearing on child custody, or spousal support, or anything substantive, the attorney you interviewed should personally appear. Period full stop.
Think about it…if you selected a surgeon to operate on you, and when you showed up for your operation, some young doctor you had never heard of showed up to cut you open, would you allow it? I doubt it.
I hope you found this post entertaining and informative.