Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Value of an Experienced Lawyer

Although it might seem obvious, an experienced lawyer brings a lot to the table that a less-experienced lawyer may not be able to match.  There are certainly very good less-experienced lawyers around, but here are some things to look for when you are choosing a lawyer to help with a Collaborative Law case.

1.  Knowledge of the law.  The experienced lawyer will thoroughly know the general Family Law provisions, but will also have a good working knowledge of Collaborative Law.  A less-experienced lawyer may not have had many Collaborative cases and may not be as comfortable in various phases of the process.

2.  Knowledge of what options to consider. An experienced lawyer knows what options are available and can help you decide how to proceed.  Collaborative Law won't work for every case, but it's always worth considering. 

3.  Experience with various approaches in the past.  There are slightly different ways to start a case and different ways to get the spouse to sign on to the Collaborative process. An experienced Collaborative attorney will know for different courses of action what the benefits may be, what problems may arise and what unplanned results may occur.  The experienced lawyer can't anticipate everything, but can help prepare for many things.

4. Comfortable working with the other professionals.  An experienced Collaborative lawyer will be used to working with the neutral professionals and understands their value.  That means the attorney is able to turn over portions of the work to the other professionals, knowing they will do a good job

5. Comfortable working with the other attorney in a non-traditional role.  In litigation, attorneys are strictly adversaries.  In the Collaborative process, they work cooperatively and that is difficult for some attorneys until they have enough cases that it becomes "normal".

6.  Knowledge of negotiating skills.  While some litigating attorneys are also   good negotiators, most often they are not well trained in negotiating.  They have to re-learn negotiating based on the interests of the parties, rather than by staking out extreme positions and negotiating toward a middle point, like car buyers and sellers do.  Focusing on the interests and needs of the parties can result in much more satisfying agreements for both parties.

7.  Knowledge of communication skills.  An experienced Collaborative attorney usually learns a great deal about communications.  It starts with how to analyze the situation, including the relations between the parties and their styles of communication.  The experienced attorney can help you learn what to say to your spouse, how to say it and what not to do.  It would have been nice to know that at the start of the marriage, but it also helps now because there will always be some connection between you and your ex-spouse.

When it's time to hire a Collaborative lawyer, you should shop around and find an experienced Collaborative lawyer you are comfortable with.  My next post will talk about how to tell if the attorney has good experience that will help your case be successful.

No comments: