This is Todd Burnham, the Founding Partner of Burnham Law, and an experienced family law lawyer with a superb record. This post will be a useful resource for you when choosing an attorney or law firm.
Step 1: Know your Finances
Before you make any decisions, you need to take a good look at your financial situation and set yourself a budget for what you can afford. Important things to consider are:
- What is your cash flow?
- Are you able to borrow money from a family member?
- Are you able to use a credit card?
Step 2: Determine how important the case is.
If your cash flow is hugely positive, then great, don’t worry about this step. However, for most of us, that is not the case. It’s at this point that you need to make difficult decisions. If your child’s safety is in question, that’s one thing, but if the case is arguing over tiny details, it starts to be a question of value for your money.
You’ve got to find that happy medium between effectiveness and affordability.
Step 3: Moving forward with the Attorney
At this point, you’ve assessed your finances, and you’ve decided that the case is important to you. This is a good time to remind you that it’s critically important that you were very careful and thoughtful when going through steps 1 and 2. You need to master your case, and you take control over the things that you can control, because a lot of the things that are about to happen are outside of your control.
But it’s so important that you choose the right attorney. You want one who can provide affordability and effectiveness.
Step 4: Check the Messaging on the Website
Obviously, you are going to Google local attorneys and practices. This search will take you to their websites. When reviewing their site, focus on what the website says and what is the messaging? What is the brand? Does that message resonate with you?
The fact about internet traffic is that it moves extremely fast, companies don’t have much time to get their message across, so they have to put what’s important to them first. You can use this to help you choose your lawyer. What is the first thing they say on their website?
Some attorneys in family law value compassion first and foremost. They demonstrate this in their marketing and on their website. The branding says, “we’re very compassionate.” And if you need compassionate people, that is the law firm you should choose.
For us at Burnham Law, it’s very specific. We’re competitive, and we want to be the best. Every day we operate with the attitude of “How do we get better?” Our goal is to win our cases and get the best possible outcome for our clients.
You need to decide based on the website’s first message what you need, compassion, competitiveness, or some other item.
Step 5: Double Check
Once you’ve found a firm whose message resonates with you, you need to do your best to check their quality. At that website level, check for errors and mistakes, grammatical or otherwise.
Is it a professionally laid out website? If it looks like it was built in the 90s and hasn’t been updated since then; that’s reflective of the quality of work that attorney will put into your case.
The value a lawyer provides is in the attention to the little details. Check their attention to detail on the website. Do some pages not load? Do the phone numbers they list not work? If they missed these details, what might they miss in your case?
Step 6: Schedule a Call
After you’ve done your due diligence and research on their website, it’s time to pick up the phone. Once again, pay attention to the details, and make sure they do as well. How are you treated on the phone? How effective was the communication? Did they charge, right? If they are missing details here or communicating poorly, that doesn’t bode well for your case.
At Burnham Law we charge $150 for 30-minute consults. There is a good reason for that. We pride ourselves on the value we provide to our clients, so our team puts ourselves into these calls and focuses on delivering value right off the bat.
A lot of firms don’t charge for consultations. This ties back to the financial aspect for you. If that’s what works best for your effectiveness and affordability equation, then that’s what you have to do. But make sure you’re keeping your mind on the effectiveness part of it as well.
Who are you speaking with on these consults? Are you talking to the attorney who’s going to be assigned to it? The owner of the firm? Is it an associate? Is it a paralegal? If it’s affordable but nor effective, that’s not a good use of your money.
Step 7: Follow your Instincts
The most crucial piece with all of that is you trust your instincts; you follow your gut and nothing else. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few law firms, you are left with a choice. You can read 10,000 reviews, but if it doesn’t feel right, keep looking.
If you feel right about it, you’ve done your research, you’ve done your homework, you’ve looked at everything, you’ve studied the websites, you’ve talked to the attorney you’ll be working; if you feel good about that, then you pull the trigger.
That’s it. Don’t look back. Make sure that you feel good about it and in your gut, in your heart. And if you do that, then you’re going to be fine.