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.