- Written by Kevin Hickey
Divorce is a difficult time and you are trying to make the best decisions possible everything that goes along with it like child custody, property division, and spousal support and hiring an attorney to represent you. There are so many life-changing decisions to be made the last thing you want to do is choose a bad attorney. Sometimes it is hard to tell if you made a good decision or not until you get going in the process. It is possible that you have hired a good lawyer, but your personalities clash. If you are feeling like your attorney is bad, you should watch for these red flags or better yet, look for these red flags before you hire him or her.
- Unresponsiveness is most likely the number one complaint about a bad attorney. Does your attorney take forever to return your phone calls or emails or worse, he or she doesn’t respond at all? While you need to keep in mind that your attorney has other cases and your call may not be returned within the next five minutes. However, you should expect a call or email response within the next 24 hours. Even if the return call is just an acknowledgment that they have received your question and he or she will need a little longer to get a proper answer. In addition, another point to remember, most family law attorneys charge by the hour, be mindful of this so as to not run up your bill with unnecessary calls. The best way to address unresponsiveness is to have a face-to-face meeting to discuss your concerns.
- As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you just don’t click with your attorney and your personalities may be completely different. Most of the time you can get a feel for the attorney’s personality at the first meeting. Just like clients, lawyers come from all walks of life with all different personalities. It is important to assess your attorney’s personality on the initial consultation to make sure his or her personality matches your personality style. Your attorney should put you at ease and make you feel comfortable to ask questions.
- While we all have our own methods of organization, a disorganized attorney is not necessarily who you want to handle such life-altering decisions. In addition to not keeping up with important documents and filing in a timely manner, the courts won’t take your attorney seriously. A couple of things to look out for are his or her scheduling practices or forgetting appointment times. Does he or she look disheveled? If your attorney fits any of these descriptions, you should probably think about hiring new counsel. You don’t want to take a chance that your attorney misses filing deadlines for child custody and divorce.
- Sketchy billing practices is also another red flag. A good attorney will be transparent in their billing. You don’t want to be stuck with a bad attorney and a huge bill. A few things that you can be aware of are:
- Padding hours
- Double billing
- Excessive or inflated fees
- The amount charged does not match the work quality
With that being said, keep in mind that billing errors can happen. You should feel comfortable enough to bring it to your attorney’s attention. If he or she is unresponsive or defensive, that could be a sign of a bad attorney.
- You absolutely do not want an attorney that practices unethical behavior. Lawyers are bound by rules of ethical and professional responsibility, defined by the American Bar Association and local state laws.
If you find that you have hired a bad attorney and he or she is not willing to address your concerns, the best decision may be to seek new counsel. As scary as that may seem, you need to keep in mind that the decisions being made will affect the rest of your life and your children’s lives. Kevin Hickey Law Partners is here for all your family law needs with your best interest in mind.