By: Associate Attorney, Alison Grafsgaard, Esq.

Over two million Americans get divorced every year, many of whom have never stepped foot in a courtroom or been involved in litigation. This hurdle, coupled with high emotion inaugurates an interesting and complex relationship between an attorney and his or her client. Building a cooperative relationship from the outset is paramount to success—and finding the best match is a formidable task. Start by asking for references from friends who have gone through a divorce and were satisfied with their attorney. From there, expand that search by browsing websites like avvo.com and mn.aaml.org. Once you have your list of options, here is what you should be looking for in a competent, respected, and efficient attorney.

First, having an attorney is essential. Considering what is at stake, it is worth having an experienced advocate protecting your interests. After you’ve decided you’re going to hire an attorney, look for one who focuses on family law. Many attorneys “dabble” in family law in addition to other practice areas, which can be a disservice to clients. Experience in dealing with opposing counsel, opposing parties, and the court in family law matters provides the client with specialized effectiveness. In that same category, your attorney should be organized and knowledgeable of the law. Efficiency and effectiveness directly correlates to how your attorney manages his or her workload and whether he or she knows what’s going on from the get-go.

Your attorney should also be objective. This may not be at the top of your list, but family attorneys deem it of high priority on theirs. While your attorney should zealously advocate for your needs, emotional enmeshment with client’s positions has proven to be ineffective. That being said, your attorney should have some degree of empathy in dealing with painful, personal issues. Make sure there is a good rapport in your initial consult. You will likely be in a vulnerable position and will have to hand over private and sometimes embarrassing information to this person. Make sure it is someone you can trust and with whom you feel comfortable sharing.

Additionally, look for an attorney who is direct with you at all times. You shouldn’t have to guess or read into what your attorney is advising you regarding potential outcomes, advice, or expectations. While sometimes it is difficult to hear that things may not shake out the way you have imagined, you should take your attorney’s advice as it is likely given with knowledge and experience. Finally, your attorney should be responsive. This includes responding to phone calls and emails within 24 hours and answering all of your questions, demonstrating to you that they are actively listening to your needs.

While there are countless books, blogs, and articles providing advice in choosing an attorney from a person who has been divorced, these factors from an attorney’s perspective should help supplement your list and guide you in finding the attorney best suited to handle your divorce. If you are looking for an attorney who has these qualities and/or are seeking references, call Arnold, Rodman and Kretchmer, PLLC today at 952-955-8008 to schedule an initial consultation.