Catherine Hyde, Family Law Clerk

My uncle was residing in a nursing home and it was left to my husband and me to sell his home.  We sought input from three realtors as to the price and what needed to be done in order to sell the home.

Two of the agents came in and after viewing the property suggested a list price. They advised what they felt were certain comparables based on work they had done prior to our meeting.  The third agent walked around, took pictures and measurements and set a time for a follow-up meeting. At that meeting he provided a booklet containing all of the information with pictures of the house, comparables and his suggested list price.  All three agents came to the same conclusion as to the list price. So you might say if two could do that without going to the trouble of preparing the booklet are they more knowledgeable and a better choice.   I asked the third agent why he didn’t just give a price for the house as the others had done.  His response was that he could have, he knew the price on his first visit, but he wanted us to see that if he was prepared to put this much work into getting the listing, we would know that he would work hard once he had the listing to sell the house.  It worked as we retained him.  Frankly because so much of the work had been done in advance he was able to hit the ground running and the house sold in three days, partly due to market conditions, but also due to the preparation done in advance.

So what does this have to do with matrimonial law? On your initial interview with your lawyer when deciding whether to retain, ask yourself – did they do the work? Do they want my business? As much as it is about money and what you can afford, you also want to know that whoever you retain is going to do the work and hit the ground running so that your money is well spent. For example, do they have a website where you can research the various family law lawyers to determine who might be a good fit for you? Do they have a blog with articles dealing with various family law issues? Was your initial call to the firm handled well?  At your appointment did you feel that the lawyer was prepared for your meeting? Were you advised of additional resources available to you to assist you through the process such as the names of blogs, books you might read or counselors that could be of assistance to you or your children?

Did you feel rushed or that what you were saying mattered? Did your lawyer in effect take a “picture” of your situation and provide a roadmap of what you can expect

There is a misconception by some that you must have a “shark” as a lawyer in order to protect your interests and that is the only consideration when retaining a lawyer. This is not the case for most family law matters.  Certainly sometimes an adversarial approach is required but in the majority of cases a sense of reasonableness by all parties will lead to an overall resolution quicker and more cost effectively.  Ensure you are retaining a lawyer based on your needs and whether you feel they did the work upfront and will continue to “do the work” to get the best resolution for you.