To pursue strategic legal action in your Minnesota family law case, you need to retain the services of a competent, qualified lawyer. Given the high stakes of your decision, how can you find and vet prospective attorneys? Consider asking your candidates the following nine questions:
1. Why do you and your team do what you do? Find a law firm whose purpose resonates with you.
2. What values motivate you and your people? Bear in mind that you will likely be working closely with your attorney for months, if not longer. Make sure the team shares values that you cherish, such as integrity and determination.
3. Does your firm handle cases similar to mine? You want to determine the attorney’s relevant experience. His or her website and marketing materials should offer a general overview of services. However, strive to obtain a more granular understanding of what the firm does and whom it serves. For instance, some family law attorneys work exclusively with high net worth individuals. Others prefer complicated cases that require deep thinking and that wind up being litigated. Still others enjoy handling issues using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches, such as mediation.
4. How do you like to work with your clients? Some lawyers approach each case systematically and prefer that their clients follow relatively clear and rigid guidelines. Others take a more flexible tack. There’s no one “right way” to manage clients, but you want to assess whether the attorney’s processes feel comfortable to you.
5. How do you communicate with clients? Find out whether he or she prefers to discuss cases in person or via phone, texts emails or even social media. Determine when and how you will coordinate, so you understand the expectations being set.
6. What are your rates? Get a sense of all costs you could incur for the services, including retainer fees, fees for incidentals, the attorney’s hourly rate and any other expenses.
7. Will an associate or a paralegal work be handling certain aspects of my case? Just because an attorney hands off work to others on the team shouldn’t give you cause for concern. However, you want to be clear about how business gets done at the firm.
8. What’s your first impression of my case, and how would you get started on it? Obviously, without much more detail, your attorney will be unable to determine a clear path forward. However, the lawyer can offer opinions about possible pitfalls and likely outcomes based on his or her experience with similar matters.
9. Is there anything else that I should know? For example, the attorney might be planning an upcoming three-month trip or might be uncomfortable with (or excited by) some element of your case.