In the same way that every divorce is different, so, too, is every divorce lawyer and the law firms where they work. From lawyers’ individual personalities, expertise, and experience to law firms’ varying cultures and values which provide the framework within which a legal team works, the client has a lot to learn before making an informed choice about which law firm they will pick. Much of this information may be gleaned from the family law consult.
If you have never booked a family law consult before, you may be unsure about what you can expect when you get there. This article will serve two purposes. The first will be to answer any questions you may have about your family law consult, and the second, to provide you with a quick list of questions you should ask when you go.
Everything You Need to Know About a Family Law Consult
1. Why should I pay for a consultation?
When you consult with a law firm, you are creating a conflict so that the firm cannot, in most circumstances, represent the opposing party. Each consult is, consequently, a potential opportunity cost for the law firm if you do not choose to retain them.
Also, a quality law firm has deeply seasoned professionals who are able to share valuable legal information and help prepare you for being represented by our firm. Consulting with a law firm likewise helps you to understand your rights and options as you weigh your decisions. These two factors alone mean your consult is worth the time and expertise you are paying for.
2. How much should I expect to pay?
Family Law consultations vary in cost and length. Be sure to ask how much your consult will be before you attend.
3. Will I get legal advice during the consult?
In general, no. This is not the purpose of a family law consult. During your consult, the professional you meet with will provide you with valuable information about the different paths you have to move forward. They should also help you to determine whether the firm is a good fit for you and can meet your need and goals, short-term and long. Most consults done at Elise Buie Family Law are handled by our relationship managers who are attorneys, but not practicing in the state of Washington.
4. How quickly can I hire?
The procedure for retaining a family law firm varies among law firms. At Elise Buie Family Law Group, you can move forward with us after you have signed the Legal Services Agreement and paid the Advance Fee Deposit required in your case. We will then set a strategy meeting for you with your legal team within a week of hiring, most of the time, within two days.
5. What do I need to have for my consult (documents, information, dates, etc.)?
You can prepare as much or as little as you are able or want. Some potential clients are still processing the potential changes in their life and find it overwhelming to prepare; others like to have a timeline in mind as well as to bring financial information, proposals, and questions (see below) to the consultation. Whatever you prefer, we will meet you where you are.
6. What actually happens in a consult?
During your family law consultation, we will talk with you and assess your situation to determine if our firm will be a good fit for you. We will gather the specifics of what is happening in your life right now and how we could help you from this point on. We will then tell you more about our firm and offer referrals to other holistic partners who can help you through this season of your life. If, for any reason, we are not able to provide you with assistance we will provide you with referrals to resources and professionals who we believe may be able to assist.
What should I look for during the consult to determine if the firm is a good fit for me?
You should look for a firm that has family law attorneys who are experienced with the circumstances in your family or curious and capable of learning how to help you move forward positively and productively.
Additionally, you should look for a firm with solutions that fit into your lifestyle — how you prefer to meet (in person, remotely, during early morning hours, after work, etc.), what path forward you want to take, and a personality and demeanor that suits your wishes.
To that end, here are some questions you can ask during your consultation to help you gain the information and clarity you need.
1. Who will be on my legal team?
Again, who will be on your legal team can vary from firm to firm. But it is a question you should know the answer to.
At Elise Buie Family Law Group, our entire firm works together. Though you may have a specific group assigned to your case depending on the size and depth of your matter, who can include a lawyer or lawyers, a paralegal, and a legal assistant, we have a system in place that allows other team members to get up to speed quickly if another set of eyes is needed.
That said, you will be communicating regularly with those professionals assigned to assist you. And, in our firm, a relationship manager, too. Let me explain further.
2. Who will be my point of contact?
This, too, will vary among law firms. In addition to your legal team, who you can communicate with freely and will be communicating with you, you will also be assigned a relationship manager.
Their primary responsibilities are to oversee your case and make sure it is running smoothly and efficiently. The relationship managers can also field any non-legal logistical questions you may have that pertain to your case. They are always a point of contact, along with your legal team.
3. What happens if I experience an emergency situation outside of normal business hours?
At Elise Buie Family Law, our answering service is available to receive detailed messages, including those about emergencies. In most instances, you will be communicating with a real person, who will then relay your message to the appropriate party at the firm. Someone from our team will respond to your inquiry as quickly as possible and address it with the same attention we would during the normal workday.
4. What is your firm’s philosophy about conflict resolution?
We are fully committed to resolving conflicts amicably for the betterment of your family. We are relationship builders and believe that it is in the best interests of everyone (you, your ex, your children), especially during a divorce, to keep communication flowing and move you through your matter so that you can go about living your life. We love co-parenting and have strategies we can teach you about how to co-parent well, even with a high-conflict ex.
5. How much will my divorce or family law matter cost?
The cost of divorce, like most else about divorce, varies. At the outset of your divorce or other family law matter, we will be able to provide you a rough estimate based on the circumstances presented, however, it is important to know that as those circumstances change the cost of your divorce will likely increase.
In a divorce or other high-conflict matter, costs are deeply wrapped up in the amount of conflict that occurs along the way. We have found, after decades of our cumulative experience practicing divorce and family law, that fervently representing our clients does not have to equate to acrimony, and we seek to minimize it through the use of alternative dispute resolution.
Once we learn more about your individual issues, the professional in your consult will be able to give you a better estimate of how much resolution of your case will cost and what the fee structure could look like.
Talk to a Seattle family law attorney today.
We know looking for a family lawyer can be stressful, especially when you want to get your matter underway as quickly as possible. We also know choosing the right family law attorney can save you time, money, and stress in the long run simply by making an informed choice.
Call us today to discuss any questions you may have about the consultation process and how we can help you.