How To Choose A Lawyer

January 25, 2016 by Brett Jones


Where does one start when they are either contemplating whether to move forward with a divorce or when their spouse has already made the decision to divorce? For some people, it can be an overwhelming time filled with emotions and uncertainty. It may be hard enough to figure out what to eat for dinner, let alone, how to find an attorney who will help with one of the biggest decisions and transitions that a person and family can go through. On the one hand, lawyers are in good supply. On the other hand, how do you choose well? That decision can make all the difference. The divorce lawyer that you select can have an enormous effect on how you get through the divorce process and on the ultimate outcome. There are objective and subjective factors, and the best decision-making process utilizes both.

Credentials. Objectively, your lawyer must be qualified to perform the service you want. If you and your spouse want a collaborative divorce, you need counsel trained in that process. The same is true for mediation: if you will be more comfortable at the mediation table with counsel by your side, your lawyer must understand the mediation process and his/her role in the mediation. If you are litigating your divorce, your lawyer should be experienced in matrimonial litigation. And of course you’re going to discuss counsel’s experience before hiring him or her. Be prepared when you consult with an attorney and bring a list of questions with you.

Referrals. Word of mouth is unscientific but effective and there are many referral sources that you can look to. Consider asking friends or family, your accountant or financial advisor, your personal attorney, your employer or co-worker(s), your therapist, a clergy member, real estate agent, or other professionals that you trust. If you know people who are recently divorced, ask about their experiences with their lawyers. Almost everyone has things they liked and did not like about their counsel, and most people are all too willing to share their experience with you. Then it’s up to you to decide whether those experiences are likely to be plusses or minuses for you.

There is another subjective component: fit. If your communication with prospective counsel isn’t fluid and confident, if you sense the two of you are “not on the same page,” hiring that lawyer creates stress in a situation that is already stressful enough. Go with your gut. If you’re not comfortable or feel you’re not the lawyer’s entire focus when the two of you speak, choose another lawyer.

Be careful of attorneys whose marketing relies on gimmicks or catchy jingles. These may get clients in the door, but after that, most service is often lacking. You have the right to fire your attorney and retain a new attorney, but depending on when this occurs, you may have then wasted time and money. Choosing wisely from the start is critical.

You want a lawyer who will educate you to the extent you wish to be educated. This is a function not just of counsel’s professional experience, but also his/her awareness and sensitivity to a divorcing client’s experience.

Bottom line: Do your research before choosing divorce counsel. A lawyer’s professional experience, public presentation and interpersonal style, plus your own subjective impression and common sense are the tools for the task. It could make all the difference for you and your family.


Brett Jones elected Co-Chair of Collaborative Regional Group

January 12, 2016 by Kathryn Lazar

We are pleased to announce that Brett E. Jones, Esq. of Lazar & Schwartz has been elected to Co-Chair the Executive Committee of the Hudson Valley Collaborative Divorce and Dispute Resolution Association for 2016-2017. In her capacity as Co-Chair, she will be assisting in the decision making process to advance the Association and the practice of Collaborative Divorce in our community and beyond.