Saturday, February 1, 2020

How to Choose a Good Collaborative Attorney for You

Once you have researched or gotten some suggestions for a possible Collaborative attorney for your divorce (or other legal issue), you need to meet with the candidate or candidates and decide which is the right one for you.

When you make an appointment to meet with the attorneys, you should plan ahead  what you want to discuss and what you are looking for. Here are some suggestions.

1.  Ask about their experience.  How long have they been doing Collaborative cases?
  • When did they start doing Collaborative cases?
  • Why do they like Collaborative Law?
  • How many Collaborative cases have they had?
  • How much training have they attended?
  • How they spoken at seminars or Collaborative meetings?
  • Are they active in Collaborative Law organizations?
  • Have they handled cases like yours in the Collaborative process?
If they have not handled many cases or been to much training, they may try to talk you out of using Collaborative Law. That's usually a sign that they are not sincere about using Collaborative Law. Try someone else.

2.  Ask about their view on Collaborative Law.  If they claim to use Collaborative but don't believe your case would be appropriate, get a second opinion. Unfortunately, some attorneys say they do Collaborative Law, but haven't been trained. Those attorneys try to draw in business and then switch clients to litigation. If an attorney says Collaborative Law is his or her first preference, that is probably a good choice.

3.  Talk about the cost for attorneys and the process.  Collaborative cases can actually save you some money, compared to costs for litigation with big fights. Having a child specialist do the preliminary work with the parents on a parenting plan is much cheaper and a better result than having two attorneys working on it simultaneously. Likewise, delegating the preliminary financial work to a single financial professional produces a better product at a smaller cost than a litigation  approach with formal discovery.

4.  Keep in mind that neither process is "cheap".  If you have significant issues, there is no bargain rate possible in any legal process.  Still, you can reduce the costs somewhat by working together as a Collaborative team.

5.  Your most important consideration:  Chemistry.
  • Make sure you feel comfortable with your attorney.
  • You need someone who listens to you well.
  • The attorney should be able to communicate well and explain things to you.
Pay attention to your gut feeling about working with the attorney.