This past weekend my husband and I went out to dinner with a friend. We chose a restaurant which I knew to have wonderfully fresh, well prepared culinary delights. While no doubt, the food at a restaurant is important, so are the service and the entire experience of the meal. We have all been to restaurants where the food is good, but the service or ambiance lacks something to be desired such that you never return to the restaurant.
When we were at dinner, the food was delicious; but what was extraordinary about the meal was our waiter. Our waiter was knowledgeable about the food, the ingredients, the preparation style, the cocktails –everything. In conversing with our waiter, he confessed he is a “foodie.” No wonder – this is why it was so evident he had a passion for the food he was educating us about and serving! Our waiter truly transformed our experience from that of a meal to that of an experience where we were guided from beginning to the end through a culinary delight.
While I am not under any delusion that a divorce or other family law matter is as joyful as an amazing dining experience, it also dawned on me that in some ways, it is not that different. When people select a lawyer to represent them in their legal matter, they expect good legal advice; just like one expects good food at a well-respected restaurant. But, the difference in our dinner this past weekend was the experience – the guidance and knowledge of our waiter.
Here is where there is no difference between a good dining experience and a good legal experience. While good legal advice should be a given, what too often is not a given, is how the lawyer undertakes to keep his or her client educated and guided through the legal process. Here are some questions to ask a prospective lawyer about the “service” he or she will give you in handling your case. The answers will help you to make a better decision on whether to hire that lawyer:
- What is the timetable in my case? When can I expect significant developments?
- How would you explain your process (strategy) in handling a matter like mine?
- Have you handled cases like mine?
- How long have you been handling family law matters?
- What percentage of your practice is dedicated to family law?
- What kind of experience do you have in contested family law cases?
- What are my alternatives in resolving the matter? What is mediation and is it an appropriate alternative to litigation for my case?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
Getting to know what your legal experience will be like by asking questions like these is not much different from learning about a dining experience. You want to be guided through the process by a knowledgeable professional with passion for their work. There is no question that it is the experience that makes all of the difference.