What Questions Should You Ask Before Hiring an Attorney: a Mediator’s Perspective

Home/Divorce, Divorce Mediation, Family Law, Updates/What Questions Should You Ask Before Hiring an Attorney: a Mediator’s Perspective

What Questions Should You Ask Before Hiring an Attorney: a Mediator’s Perspective

Question

Massachusetts Divorce Mediator Justin L. Kelsey provides a divorce mediator’s perspective on the questions clients should ask before hiring a family law attorney.

Justin L. Kelsey is a Hingham divorce mediator.

Divorce Mediator Justin L. Kelsey

Experiencing any type of legal dispute is stressful and many people walk into a lawyer’s office nervous and anxious about the experience.  In order to reduce that anxiety and ensure that you hire someone who is a good fit for your case, it is important to consider what questions you want to ask and to enter that meeting prepared.

There are numerous articles telling you what you should ask a divorce attorney before you hire them. The typical advice ranges from the obvious (what are their billing rates) to the not-so-obvious (what percentage of their practice is devoted to your type of case).  As a mediator, though, my advice is a little more personal.

Does your lawyer understand your goals?

While it is important to ask questions about the lawyer’s practice, cost and experience, it is also very important that any counsel that you hire understands your goals.   The type of lawyer you choose to meet with and hire can have a significant impact on how you view conflict in your case and whether those conflicts are resolved or inflamed (this is what we have previously termed the Observer Effect in Family Conflict).  If the lawyer doesn’t value or agree with your goals then your are guaranteed to have a negative experience in your case.

First, you need to make sure you understand your own goals and can articulate them.  Ask yourself the following questions before you meet with an attorney:

  • What is the most important issue for you?
  • What do you need?
  • What do you hope to accomplish in your case?
  • What do you want your life to look like after your case is over?
  • What do you want for yourself out of life?
  • What do you want for the other people involved in your case?
  • If your case involves children, what do your children need and what do you want for your children?
  • Why are you choosing to meet with an attorney (instead of or in addition to a counselor, coach, mediator or other divorce professional)?
Justin L. Kelsey is a Massachusetts divorce mediator in Hingham, MA 02043.

Choosing the right divorce attorney is a critically important choice.

Now you are prepared to explain to your potential attorney what your goals and needs are and to then ask the attorney:

  • Do you understand my goals?
  • What are the different options for me to accomplish what I want in my case?
  • How is your role different in each option, for instance if I choose mediation what would your role be?
  • How do you prioritize potentially conflicting goals, such as reducing conflict vs. getting the best deal?
  • If we disagree during the case about the best way for me to attain or prioritize my goals, how will you handle that disagreement?

These questions are not about testing the attorney’s ability to think on their feet or their experience with your type of case.  Instead, these questions are designed to illicit answers that will help you know whether this attorney is a good fit for you.  Do they share your approach and your style or will their style conflict with yours?  Going through any type of family dispute can be extremely stressful, and you want to find an attorney that reduces that stress by understanding you and your goals.

I once heard an attorney tell a client that the client got to set the destination, but that the attorney was the one who drove the bus.  If you’re concerned about who the attorney might run over getting to your destination then you may want to ensure that you hire an attorney who lets you navigate too.

This blog is re-posted from Skylark Law & Mediation’s Scaling the Summit Blog.

About the Author: Justin L. Kelsey is a Massachusetts divorce mediator and collaborative law attorney with Skylark Law & Mediation

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. You are invited to contact our office. Contacting the office does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to the office until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. This blog is considered an advertisement for The Law Office of Lynch & Owens, P.C. The Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct broadly govern all advertisements and communications made by attorneys and law firms in the Commonwealth. Generally, legal websites and any other content published on the internet by lawyers are considered a type of communication and an advertisement, according to the Comments to Rule 7.2.

Related Posts

By | 2017-03-28T10:38:12+00:00 April 8th, 2016|Categories: Divorce, Divorce Mediation, Family Law, Updates|Tags: |Comments Off on What Questions Should You Ask Before Hiring an Attorney: a Mediator’s Perspective

About the Author:

Justin L. Kelsey is a family law attorney, collaborative law attorney, divorce mediator and founder of Skylark Law & Mediation. He can be reached by phone at (508) 655-5980 or [email protected], or visit his website at https://www.skylarklaw.com/.