In the old days, we duked out our differences. Then we hired surrogates to fight for us—Knights on white horses, perhaps. Now we hire lawyers as our surrogates.

If you are establishing parental rights, getting a divorce, seeking a modification, defending or enforcing a protective order, you will do better if you retain a competent lawyer to represent you. Downloading forms from the internet does not substitute for experienced, knowledge-based advocacy. Neither does following the “advice” of relatives, bar buddies, well-meaning friends, or other amateurs.

Here are  eight questions you should always ask a prospective lawyer before you entrust one with what is valuable to you:

  1. Are you licensed and in good standing with the state bar?
  2. Do you have any history of discipline by any state bar?
  3. Did you graduate from an accredited law school? Where?
  4. Do you carry errors and omissions (i.e. malpractice) insurance? For how much?
  5. What is your hourly rate, initial retainer, and how do you determine billings?
  6. Will you respond to my reasonable inquiries within one business day or as soon thereafter as is possible if it is impossible or impractical to so respond?
  7. Do you focus on family law, or are you a “jack of all trades”?
  8. How long have you been practicing law? How much of that time has been devoted exclusively or primarily to family law?

With these questions you can usually separate the good attorneys from the hustlers before you lose a deposit or get your case so screwed up that it will cost you extra even to get back to square one, if that is even possible.


  1. Hire an attorney with no bar discipline record.
  2. Hire an attorney who refuses to guarantee a specific outcome. Those “guarantees” don’t exist.
  3. Hire a properly licensed attorney who focuses solely on family law.
  4. Hire an attorney with at least 10 years experience in the practice of family law.
  5. Hire an attorney who is responsible enough to maintain a solid errors and omissions policy.
  6. Insist on a written contract of retention with clear and understandable terms. Don’t ever fall for the old “Give me a thousand dollars and I’ll do your case” ploy. Too often the $1,000 disappears and your case stagnates.
  7. Insist on one business day or less for response to your inquiries, and copies of everything generated or received in your case.

At THE HUNTSMAN FIRM, we strive to represent you well, effectively, and with full disclosure.

4 replies
  1. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are likely going to get a divorce soon, so I am looking for a lawyer in the area. I like your point about choosing someone who has graduated from an accredited school and is in good standing with the state bar. This would prove to me they have the right training and experience to handle my case, so I’ll be sure to ask about this.

  2. Jocelyn McDonald
    Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My sister is going through a tough divorce right now, and I suggested she hire a family attorney to help her with her case. Your article had some great tips for choosing a lawyer, and I really liked your point to choose a lawyer with no bar discipline record. Thanks for the helpful post; I’ll be sure to share this advice with my sister to help her through this divorce case.

  3. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are currently going through a divorce, so thanks for this info. I like your point about asking your potential lawyer about their billings first. I’ll be sure to ask about payment options so I know I can afford the firm.

  4. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are currently splitting up so thanks for sharing these tips on finding a lawyer. I like your point about choosing a lawyer with lots of experience. I’ll be sure to ask about this when consulting different law firms so I know they have handled cases like mine in the past.

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