One Question, Three Lawyers
Dear Splitopia: My neighbor had a horrible divorce, but she keeps telling me to use her lawyer. Should I use her lawyer?
Our Panel Says:
Michael Stutman: You should ask your neighbor what it was about her lawyer that she thinks is so spectacular and then think about whether those qualities work for you. You should meet this attorney as well and talk around. Lawyers and clients usually select themselves. There are many attorneys out there who are skilled in matrimonial practice. You should take your time, meet and speak to a few, even if they charge a modest consultation fee. It’s worth the investment.
Naomi Cahn: Of course, you don’t need to use a divorce lawyer just because someone told you to use that person! But just because your neighbor had a horrible divorce, that does not mean the lawyer was horrible. It might be that your neighbor’s ex was horrible, or that the lawyer for your neighbor’s ex was horrible. So, you might still want to talk to the neighbor’s lawyer.
Janice Green: Your situation may be very different from your neighbor's divorce. Interview her lawyer, but also interview at least a couple of others. I always recommend that people lawyer-shop to find the right fit. An attorney-client relationship needs to work on all cylinders: meshing of personalities, the level of expertise required by the facts of your case, and mutual trust.
About our Panel:
Michael Stutman has more than 30 years of family law experience, handling both settlements and court trials. Michael is immediate past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, New York Chapter. He is also a Fellow of the Academy and serves on its National Board of Governors. Michael is also the author of Divorce in New York: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect (Addicus Books, 2013). You can contact him at: Michael@sasllaw.com
Naomi Cahn is the Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School. She is the co-author, along with law professor June Carbone, of Marriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2010) as well as the leading family law textbook Contemporary Family Law. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and The New Yorker. Find more at law.gwu.edu.
Janice Green is a family law attorney who has been practicing in Austin, TX, for the past 35 years. She is the author of Divorce After 50: Your Guide to the Unique Legal & Financial Challenges (NOLO, 2013). She is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and has been named to Best Lawyers in America and as a Texas Monthly Super Lawyer. For the past 10 years, she’s focused exclusively on collaborative divorce. Find more at janicelgreen.com.
And now, some legalese:
The information in this blog post is provided for general purposes only. It may not reflect the current law in your county and doesn’t replace legal advice. This post is not intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. No attorney-client relationship has been established by reading the post.