We have a nifty tool at R+A allowing us to keep up with all sorts of statistics when a potential client submits an intake form to our office. We have been doing it since October of last year. About 40 people have been in contact with us for various family law issues who completed our online form, the most prevalent reason being divorce. As it turns out, 28% of people find out about us through an attorney, which is our biggest referral source by a pretty wide margin.
I have been working divorce cases in Mississippi for 14 years now. Frankly, I have noticed the quality of family law legal work decreasing across the board, especially in the last several years. I attribute this in large part to tort reform. While trial lawyers have taken a hit, the defense bar has as well. Gone are the days when big firms employ five or six new associates fresh out of school in Mississippi. There is simply not as much legal work to do, and we have just as many or more attorneys. So if a lawyer wants to work in his or her chosen field, they are hanging their shingles without receiving much training, and almost everyone knows somebody with family conflict. You see, you can practice law in Mississippi without one day of practical, real life experience working with clients and the court system, and many people do. An old lawyer in Meridian told me practicing family law is like playing baseball, you either have a feel for it or you don’t.
Almost everyone knows an attorney. Maybe he or she goes to church with you or maybe your kids go to school together. If you are facing family conflict or you have a friend or family member who is, they should be your first call. With two or three clicks of the mouse, a well placed email or right off the top of their head, they are going to be able to create a list of 3 – 5 attorneys who specialize in family law. Good lawyers. Once you get those names, I recommend you check out their websites or online profiles. Read what they say about their practice and their philosophy. If you like what you see, reach out to them. How efficiently do they get back in touch with you and handle your intake information? How many cases have they tried in your jurisdiction or specifically before the judge to whom your case is assigned? What types of resources are at their disposal if things heat up? Do you feel like you can talk to them? Did they take notes when you met? Were they dialed in? What did you learn about them from looking around their office?
Not all lawyers are created equally. As important as his or her experience and reputation is their ability to relate to your life circumstances. After all, you are employing them to speak and act for you in the most difficult circumstances of your life, and you only get one shot to do it right.
Need a lawyer? Call one you know and go from there.