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How to choose your attorney
How to find an Attorney
Knowledge & Experience
Attorneys Philosophy & Style

By Marguerite Smith (206-343-6362)

How to Find an Attorney

Word of mouth is a good way, either through a referral from a friend or a professional who has dealt with the attorney. If you do not have the benefit of either of those sources, you will need to use such tools as the Qwest Dex Yellow Pages or lists on divorce-related websites such as this one. See Attorneys List for attorneys who have agreed to adhere to the King County Bar Association Guidelines of Professional Courtesy and to the Washington State Bar Association Creed of Professionalism.

You should check out the person's website and read about them. You can often get an idea of their general attitude towards divorce; for example whether they actively promote mediation and other settlement procedures. The more detailed the website the better. Call the attorney. Feel free to talk on the phone to get a feel for the person. Arrange an initial consultation if you wish. Some attorneys charge for initial consultations. I do because my initial consultation covers a lot of legal ground and is valuable to the client.

Knowledge and Experience

Knowledge and experience are #1 priorities. Find out from the attorney how long he or she has been practicing family law and how long they have been in practice in general. Be aware of the fact that just because a person has been practicing family law for let's say five years does not mean that family law has been a major part of their practice for five years. This could just mean that they have done the occasional case, maybe one a year, for each of those five years. This very likely means that the attorney is not very experienced at family law.

There are attorneys who devote a large part of their practice to family law. Seek them out. Naturally, the more an attorney works within an area of practice, the more intuitive he/she becomes. This intuition is important in suggesting rational solutions to divorce problems. The more reasonable both sides are, the more likely a settlement can be reached. In addition, the more reasonable and logical an attorney presentation is to the court, the better chance the client has of a successful result.

The Attorney's Philosophy and Style

Attorneys vary widely across the spectrum. Some have the "go for the jugular" approach. This can be very expensive to you emotionally and financially. Some may be so laid back that the client's interests are not pursued in a timely manner. There are also those who vigorously pursue all reasonable means to achieve a settlement. A reasonable settlement is definitely the best route in the end. Most cases settle before trial, even those in which the parties have incurred heavy losses, i.e. attorneys' fees through numerous battles.

The client who is able to shortcut all the costly emotional and financial litigation is indeed a wise person. Find an attorney who matches this philosophy and style if this is what you want. See Attorneys on this site for those who have agreed to adhere to the King County Bar Association Guidelines of Professional Courtesy and to the Washington State Bar Association Creed of Professionalism.

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