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How to know if I'm hiring a good lawyer?

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

When every lawyer claims to be experienced, dedicated, professional . . . [insert other positive adjectives], it's tough to know which lawyer is good. One way to test the quality of a lawyer is to schedule a consultation. Look for the following 4 qualities as you speak with the lawyer.



Knowledge


How well does the lawyer understand marriage, divorce, inheritance, property, and prenup laws? Did the lawyer explain to you what would happen if you got married, divorced and/or died without a prenup? Did he inform you how prenups change the rules of divorce and inheritance?


When the lawyer spoke, did she sound confident? Was the lawyer able to explain the information in a way that made sense? Did the lawyer answer all of your questions?


A good prenup lawyer will be able to show her knowledge through explanations and answers. As Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." A lawyer who can't explain prenups and divorce doesn't understand them.


Red Flag: If the lawyer tells you that prenups only protect property that you currently own, that your partner must hire an attorney, or that the lawyer has to sign off on the prenup, then the lawyer does not understand divorce and prenup laws.


Options


Did the lawyer offer you various options on what you can include in your prenup? There are hundreds of ways to structure a prenup. A prenup can exclude only premarital property from division; it can exclude all property. The division could be 50/50, based on contribution, based on title, based on who took out the credit. It can grant equity in a house in exchange for mortgage payments or provide a cash settlement to reimburse contributions towards the home.


There are many ways to divide property, pay alimony, reimburse contributions, settle differences, deal with pets. Because prenups are not infallible, it's important that your prenup reflects what you and your partner believe is fair.


A lawyer that can offer you various options and brainstorm with you ways to settle your divorce is a lawyer that'll write a fair prenup that'll have a higher chance of being upheld by a judge if the prenup is challenged.


Red Flag: Lawyers who don't offer options often use templates and cookie-cutter terms. Not only does that not allow for customization but it can result in a prenup that doesn't reflect your expectations.


Practice Areas


What's the lawyer's primary practice area? Is the lawyer a general family lawyer that spends most of his time in custody and child support battles? Does the lawyer practice everything? Does she specialize in business, injury, or some other unrelated area? Or is the attorney's primary focus prenups?


Prenups are a niche market. Even though many firms include prenups in their long list of services, few lawyers have actually written a prenup. Of those who have, even fewer study prenuptial law and understand how divorce, property, tax, estate, and contract law impact a prenup.


While it's possible that a lawyer who doesn't regularly write prenups could draft a decent one, there's a greater chance that the prenup will be a template that does not offer you the protection that you're seeking.


Red Flag: A lawyer who does everything (and even lawyers who do all things family law) typically do not have the time to study and understand the intricacies of prenups.


Attitude


Was the lawyer friendly? Was she easy to speak with? Did the lawyer respect your wishes? Did he try to understand your goals? A lawyer with a great attitude is one you'll be able to work with best. That's a lawyer who is willing to revise a prenup, to brainstorm creative settlements, to provide honest assessment, and to respect your wishes in the end even if you don't want to accept the lawyer's advice.


Red Flag: If the lawyer sounds pushy, arrogant, or rigid, the lawyer is unlikely to respect you, your intellect, your relationship, and your goals.

 

This blog and the tips in it are general information and not legal advice. If you want legal advice, book a free consultation!