Friday, February 15, 2013

How to Pick a Collaborative Attorney

If you have decided that you want to use Collaborative Law for your divorce, you will need to hire a Collaborative attorney. That's not necessarily an easy step because not all attorneys are trained in Collaborative Law.  You want to make sure you start off with a trained, experienced Collaborative lawyer.

Here are some quick keys for how to find and hire a Collaborative attorney.

1.  Make sure the attorney is actually trained in Collaborative Law.  An attorney, and the other professionals involved, actually need to have attended at least a two-day "basic training".  Some attorneys will try to claim that they can handle the case without it, but they will not do a good job for you.  In addition, the attorney should regularly attend trainings to continually update their skills.  From my observations over more than 10 years of Collaborative work, it is clear that the practice has evolved and changed over the time.  Attorneys need to keep up with new ideas.

2.  If an attorney tries to talk you out of Collaborative Law right off the bat, get a second opinion.  Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of "bait and switch" attorneys who advertise that they handle Collaborative cases even though they usually haven't been trained. If someone comes in and wants to use Collaborative Law, the attorney immediately starts telling them all the reasons why it would be inappropriate.  If you get that treatment, get a second opinion.

3.  Ask about the attorney's experience in Collaborative Law cases.  Ask how long they have done Collaborative work.  Ask them to tell you some stories about how they got some good outcomes from it.  Ask what they like about Collaborative Law.  An experienced attorney can easily answer those questions.  A bait and switch attorney can't.

4.  Location.  Generally, you need a local attorney, from the county where you reside.  If there aren't many Collaborative attorneys in your county, check for an adjacent county.  Don't worry about where the attorney's office is.  I've had cases where all the meetings were at my office, some where all the meetings were at the other attorney's office, some were all at a neutral site and some were at a financial professional's office.  The location is always set up for the convenience of the parties.

5.  Good chemistry.  This is the intangible.  Make sure you have a good feeling about the attorney.  Trust your gut on whether this is the right attorney for you.

If you follow through with these suggestions, you should end up with a good Collaborative lawyer and hopefully a more peaceful divorce experience.

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