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How do I find a lawyer?

Friends and family members who have been divorced are often a good source of referrals. When discussing lawyers with friends or family members, be sure to ask about the lawyer who represented the other spouse.

Local bar associations, usually listed in the Yellow Pages, often provide the names of lawyers who will see potential matrimonial clients. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, located in Chicago, publishes a nationwide directory of its members. Members must pass a family law test issued by the Academy, and must have been in practice for at least ten years before they can gain admission to the Academy. The Academy has local branches in major cities throughout the country.

Lawyers can also be an excellent referral source, as can judges who hear matrimonial cases.

The Yellow Pages may list attorneys who devote their time to matrimonial law. Martindale and Hubble, a private, nationwide directory of attorneys, not only lists lawyers but also provides brief descriptions of their backgrounds. Martindale and Hubble can be found in some libraries and in many law firms. Westlaw, an online service for lawyers, has a directory of attorneys. Finally, clergymen can sometimes be a source of referrals.

What is the best way to contact a lawyer?

A brief telephone call is the best way to contact a lawyer. Identify yourself, the referral source, briefly describe the problem (I want a divorce, I have a custody problem), and ask for an appointment with the lawyer. Tell the attorney your spouse's name so that the lawyer will know whether he has already met with her, in which case he cannot see you. Be sure to ask if there is a fee for the consultation, and what that fee is. Unless the lawyer asks for information, resist the urge to go into great detail on the phone about the problems you are facing. Save that for the initial consultation.

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