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1 CONSUMER REPORT The 7 Critical Questions to ask BEFORE Hiring a Divorce Attorney PROVIDED BY: Seattle Divorce Services NW Market Street Seattle, WA

2 Why is This Decision So Important? I These are difficult times and hiring the right Divorce Attorney can be one of the most important decisions you make. f you choose to hire the wrong attorney, your troubles have just begun. We cannot begin to tell you how many horror stories we have heard from well-meaning people like you who hired a fly by night firm, or used some documents they found online, to cover their long-term needs. In an attempt to save a few bucks, they lost a lot and made things worse than they already were. The 7 questions in this report outline what to look for in an attorney who practices in Divorce, either Litigation or Alternative Dispute Resolution. Use them as your guide to navigate the troubled waters. Above all, use the questions to show you who will give you the specialized care that you and your family deserve. Every case is different. Every person requires special attention. Sadly, the persistent (and even offensive) advertising from many law firms often leaves you, the consumer, with a loss as to where to go to find good, competent help. That s why we wrote this Special Report for you. First, we understand that you care deeply about your future and the future of your family. Second, we know that you are looking to make the right decision. Third, we know that you are busy and do not have all day to figure this stuff out. Lastly we understand this can be an extremely emotional time and you need some clarity. That s why we have put together this Special Report. It will arm you with the right information to make the best decision when it comes to your needs. If, after reading the Special Report, you find that our firm meets your needs, that s great and we would be glad to help. However, if you choose to find another law firm (and you base that decision on what you read here), we will have accomplished our mission too. That s because we truly understand your situation, we do care about you, and (more than anything) we want you to find a firm and attorney that meets your specific needs. So, let s get started. Here are the 7 things you must ask a divorce attorney before choosing to work with them. 2

3 E When is the right time to hire a Divorce Attorney? Is it too early could it be too late? Question #1 very situation is unique, including yours. We find people will seek out legal guidance at different stages of their divorce. Sometimes it is because they are afraid of what is going to happen next or they are in denial of the situation. We find lots of people thought things were going smoothly only to find out too late that their case is headed to court and they are not prepared. Just make sure if you think you might even remotely be in need of legal services for your divorce that you at least ask an attorney some questions to clarify your situation and give you better guidance for what to do next. The short answer is it is never too early to TALK to an attorney. Without knowing your exact circumstances it is impossible to know if you need to HIRE an attorney yet. What we can tell you is that contacting an attorney does not commit you to anything. A Does it cost money to talk with an attorney? What if I don t know if I am ready or if I am even going to need an attorney? Question #2 ny reputable attorney that is looking out for your best interest will allow you to contact them to see if they are the right fit for you, your situation, and your goals. A top-notch firm will be interviewing you while you are interviewing them. Some attorneys will offer free consultations to get you in the door, but many reputable firms do charge at least a nominal fee for the initial consultation. The information you get at that initial consultation will be well worth the money you paid, and may help you avoid costly mistakes down the road. The other issue you need to be looking out for is any firm that is too quick to bring you on as a client. During the first consultation the attorney should be helping you make the decision, not trying to push you into anything. 3

4 Question #3 Should I look for firms with lots of attorneys and a huge office? U nlike some other areas of the law, many of the best divorce attorneys work in small offices or even in solo practices. During something so personal as a divorce you want to find the attorney that is the right fit for you. This is not just a simple cookie cutter situation and you don t want to be treated like another number instead of a client. Find a firm that you have rapport with and you will be much happier in the long run. Small to medium sized firms tend to provide a more personal service and better access to your attorney. Ask yourself if you prefer being a small part of a bottom line or someone that is cared for and respected as a person. The best attorney for you is the attorney who is the right fit for you. Not every good attorney is a good fit for every client. Sometimes the personalities just don t mesh, and sometimes the goals of the client and attorney are different. The attorney should listen as well as talk. You should feel from the first meeting that they care about you and your situation. Question #4 If I hire an attorney does this mean I have to go to trial? T rials can be expensive, drawn out, difficult affairs. It is true that sometimes you have to go all the way to trial, but a good attorney will do everything in their power to keep you out of court. There are attorneys that will push you into a long drawn out and expensive process. This is something that you need to make sure you ask about at the beginning. A good initial question is how many of that attorney s cases go to trial. Find out what the firm s philosophy is. Ask the attorney in your first meeting what they believe is the best approach to the process of getting divorced. Let them answer that question without you telling them you would prefer not to go to trial. Usually when you sit down with a divorce attorney you can figure out pretty quickly if they want to drag this out. 4

5 Question #5 I have worked with another attorney on my estate planning/ contracts/business. Can I just hire them because I already know them and they know me? D ivorce can be tricky and people can really get hurt both emotionally and monetarily. This is precisely why you should find an attorney that focuses on divorce and family law. These attorneys are experienced in the subtle nuances that make up the divorce process. They can help you avoid pitfalls and often times bring things to a speedy healthy resolution. It can also be useful to get fresh eyes on your situation and consult someone that does not have any bias about your spouse. They can approach things with a clean slate and help you make the best decisions for you. Question #6 A Can t I just go online, download a few forms, and process the divorce myself? bsolutely you can. Just remember Often times people believe things are going smoothly, think their previous spouse will be flexible and open during this process only to find that in the end things are going terribly wrong. Even for an amicable agreed divorce, having an attorney prepare the papers can avoid serious mistakes that can be expensive to undo, if they can be undone at all. There are lots of considerations when filing for divorce and many of these things can be highly emotional and borderline dramatic without a referee. There is the rare case that things go 100% smoothly without an attorney but why leave it up to chance. If the firm is serious about helping you through this process they will do everything they can to make things easier, fair, and amicable. Ask the attorney if they offer other services besides going to court like Collaboration, Mediation, FasTrack and more. If nothing else at least take the time to ask an attorney some questions before you go it alone. 5

6 Question #7 Who will I be interacting with at your firm? T his last question could be the most important one you ask. Many law firms will shove you off to work with a clerk for weeks on end and you may only get one meeting (if that) from the actual attorney. The fact is, you want to find a firm where the attorney has set aside time to get to know you and to work with you personally, 1-on-1. While every firm will have clerks and assistants doing work on your case (ours does), you still want to get face-to-face, real access to your attorney. There is nothing like it. That s why we always make it a point to get to know our clients as people as real human beings. Summary When considering an attorney who focuses on Divorce and Family Law be sure that you ask ALL of the 7 questions above. How an attorney answer these questions will tell you a lot about how they will handle your needs. 6

7 Don t be afraid to ask these 7 questions. F rom experience, our firm never has a problem when a prospective client is detailed in asking us questions like this (or others). Not only are we confident that we meet all 7 of these qualifications, but it also tells us that you are serious about finding the right solution for your situation. If you are looking for a firm that is competent in all areas of the law mentioned above, a firm who holds to the highest ethical standards, and who cares deeply for your needs and concerns, then please give us a call. There s no obligation and no fine print. We believe you need to know who will be working for you and if we are the right fit for you. From experience, we believe that no firm will serve you better. But we ll let you be the judge of that. Here are the 7 things you must ask a divorce attorney before choosing to work with them. To get your specific questions answered, call the number below. And we look forward to helping you move into this stage of life. Seattle Divorce Services NW Market Street Seattle, WA

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