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Tag: good lawyer

When it comes to divorce and family law firms, never hire on faith and hope

Do your research with due diligence. Interview a lot of different firms and attorneys (I’m talking 5 to 10, not just 2 or 3—you’ll never get a feel for the diversity of competence and incompetence unless you do). Don’t be offensive in your questioning, but do ask candid and serious questions of those you interview to get an idea of the lawyer’s (and of the office’s) personality and professional culture, and approach to the work.  

Lawyers are trained to be persuasive, so don’t be taken in by simply what they say or how well you perceive they say it. Most lawyers who are mediocre and incompetent can still charm you in conversation fairly well, if you’re not discerning.  

Don’t hire the least expensive or the most expensive attorney. Hire the best attorney you can afford, and if the best attorney you can afford is incompetent, then you either need to get more money for a good attorney or you’re probably better off with no attorney at all. Paying an incompetent attorney is just wasting your money.  

Don’t base your decision on online reviews. Great online lawyer reviews are easy to fake and usually are fake.  

Don’t hire based solely or primarily upon the recommendations of friends alone. Some friends have no idea who’s good or bad, but they “recommend” people so that they look smart and connected, not really to help you. Some friends surprisingly don’t know a good attorney from a bad one, even if they think they do.  

Even when you’ve done your best to ensure you hired a good attorney, it is virtually impossible to know whether you’ve hired a good or bad divorce and family lawyer until after you’ve worked with him/her for a few days or weeks. Pay close attention in those first days and weeks.  

“Hire slow, fire fast” is good advice for who your attorney is. Take your time to find who you believe—after conducting a solid investigation—is a good attorney before you hire one. In the unfortunate event you realize your attorney stinks, don’t beat yourself up about; many, many lawyers succeed by being deceitful. But once you discover your choice of attorney was a bad choice (a bad lawyer), replace him/her as fast as you reasonably can. Don’t try to reform your bad attorney. Odds are high that it won’t work. Don’t hold on to your incompetent attorney because of sunk costs. Your lousy attorney will only cost you more the longer he/she stays on your case. Hire slow, but fire (when you need to fire) fast.  

If your lawyer: 

  • (or a member of his/her staff) returns your calls and emails and text messages promptly and addresses all of your questions and concerns (your good, thoughtful questions and concerns—if you are the type who runs to the phone or the computer in a panic or on a whim with any and every question having failed to do your own homework first, expect your lawyer to get testy with you sooner than later); 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) promptly sends you complete copies of correspondence with opposing counsel and others involved in the case; 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) promptly sends you complete copies of everything he/she files with the court and that opposing counsel files with the court; 
  • (or a member of his/her staff) sends you drafts of the motions and other documents he/she is preparing to file with the court, so that you can review and comment on them and approve them for filing with the court before they are filed with the court; 
  • and his/her staff reflect a desire to do their best in every aspect of their work; 
  • checks in with you regularly to give you update and to see how you’re holding up; 
  • explains the legal process to you before you file your case and as your case unfolds; 
  • shows up to court on time, is clearly knowledgeable of the facts and the applicable law, and is prepared to argue your case zealously at hearings; 
  • isn’t afraid to tell you when your case or elements of your case is/are weak, and doesn’t offer or agree to do whatever you want “if the price is right”; and  
  • isn’t afraid to take your case to trial (in other words, isn’t champing at the bit to get you to agree to quick and dirty settlement), 

you likely have a good lawyer. A lawyer who delivers real value for the money you pay your lawyer. If your lawyer or his/her staff doesn’t do these all of these things, you likely have a bad lawyer.  

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/Can-someone-recommend-a-good-law-firm/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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The biological father of my child filed to establish paternity. He’s unfit and I haven’t been served yet. How can I handle this?

The biological father of my child filed to establish paternity. He’s unfit and I haven’t been served yet. How can I handle this? 

My answer applies to both mothers and fathers in this situation: 

  1. Start preparing for the showdown now. Don’t wait for trouble to find you. 
  2. Don’t try to handle this without a good lawyer (not just any lawyer, not an “affordable” lawyer, but a good lawyer, a lawyer who is skilled in the area of child custody litigation, of good character (someone who is honest and trustworthy), and diligent (works hard to get the job done right and without wasting your time and money)). If you fail to comply with the law and court rules and lose as a result, saying “I had no lawyer” is no excuse and “I had a bad lawyer” is almost never a winning argument. 
  3. The best way to win your case is with independently verifiable proof. The next best way to win is with highly persuasive evidence. The difference between proof and evidence. Proof is objective, absolute. Not in doubt. Evidence weighs on the balance of probabilities. Sometimes the evidence can be of such a nature that it is highly persuasive and convincing, but it always leaves the door open. 
  4. The riskiest way to win your case is on a “your word against mine” basis (and I would be dishonest if I did not mention that in my experience most courts tend to find the testimony of mothers far more credible than the testimony of fathers—it’s not fair, it’s sexist, but it happens nevertheless, and more often than not, in my experience). 
  5. Understand and accept that this process can take a long time and cost a lot of money and take a terrible toll on you emotionally and psychologically. Budget accordingly. Stay grounded. Watch you drug and alcohol intake. See a therapist and/or a minister for help with coping skills and a check on whether your emotions are clouding your judgment. Get some exercise, even it’s just a brisk walk each day. Don’t be afraid to lean on willing friends and family for moral support. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

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How to Identify a Good Divorce Lawyer, from the Client’s Perspective

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to identify a good lawyer without using his/her services for a while to see if you “got it right” on your choice. There are, however, a few good rules of thumb to help you avoid a bad choice. This is how I’d do it, if I were not an attorney, but in the market for one:

With rare exception, new lawyers aren’t very good (I wasn’t when I was fresh out of school, even though I was trying my best and doing as well as could be expected of a newly-minted attorney). They don’t really teach you how to practice law in law school, they teach you a lot of information you’ll need in the practice of law, and they teach you how to pass the bar exam. But how to do the job is something a law school really was never intended to teach. You’re expected to learn the practice of law on the job. So a potential client will improve his odds of getting a good attorney by getting an experienced attorney. Look for a lawyer with at least about 7 consecutive years of experience in the field of practice you need help with.

Look for someone who can give you clear and straight answers to your questions (and an attorney who has the confidence and humility to answer your tough question with “I don’t know” may be a better choice than the attorney who appears or tries to appear to be a know it all).

Understand, understand, understand that you get what you pay for. While it is possible that you find a great attorney for cheap, the odds are highly against it. A good lawyer cannot do the job well without being paid well to do it.

Find someone you feel you can trust. Someone who works with your personality and your schedule. Now you have to do your part in your case. You have to accept the fact that your attorney isn’t going to be your legal slave (you will have to do a lot of your own work to help your case succeed). And you can’t just let your gut guide you, but if, after you’ve vetted a few attorneys and created a short list, you don’t feel you and a particular attorney on that list would be a good fit, you and he/she probably won’t be.

Don’t just interview 2–3 attorneys. Interview 5–6. Or more, if you have time. There are lot of attorneys, and so there are a lot of bad ones out there. Taking the time and effort to sort through them will be rewarded.

Once you’ve narrowed the field to 3 attorneys or so, go watch them in action in court. See how they conduct themselves. You can call the court clerk for the local courthouses and ask if and when that attorney is scheduled to appear in court and where. And you can turn this method on its head with good results too: just go to court and watch domestic relations proceedings. They are open to the public. Watch for attorneys you feel are prepared, knowledgeable, carry themselves well and know how to handle the give and take of argument and questioning witnesses. After the trial or hearing, go up and introduce yourself and ask if that attorney is taking on new clients.

Finally, and unfortunately, I’ve found that asking judges and other attorneys who they believe to be a good attorney has usually led me in the wrong direction. Why? Most judges and other attorneys believe a “good” lawyer is someone they get along with. ‘Nothing wrong with being well-regarded, but if the reason for that is because that lawyer “gets along to get along,” I’ve found that means that that lawyer values his/her relationships with judges and other attorneys more than doing the job well for his/her client. Beware.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/As-a-lawyer-what-are-top-things-you-wish-your-clients-would-stop-saying-doing/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?__nsrc__=4&__snid3__=4379759651&comment_id=94066561&comment_type=2

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