Q: I’ve interviewed several lawyers. How do I choose?
A: Long experience helped me formulate Friedman’s Rules. Here are just a few of them:
1) It’s painful calling lawyers for the first time. The urge is to hire the first you talk to. Resist that urge with all your might. Make certain the lawyer is a good fit for you emotionally.
2) Talking to clients is often painful for some lawyers and gets pushed off onto associates. If you’re not guaranteed access to the partner you hire, keep looking.
3) Get realistic expectations—not what you want to hear. You need to know the reality you’re facing, not a rosy picture so the lawyer gets hired.
4) Hire a good litigator, but settlement is the name of the game. You need a good litigator, to set up your settlement, but don’t get caught up in the fight.
5) Know the end game. When it’s over, how much will you spend, how long it will take and what will settlement look like? If a lawyer can’t tell you that, keep looking.
Q: What does it take for a successful outcome?
A: Resolve. If you have it, emotionally and financially, you have a chance at a reasonable outcome. “Wins” are rare and the cost can be extraordinary. Statistically, few clients are ever happy with the outcome of a fully litigated case. You want a reasonable settlement—not a win.
This undertaking requires teamwork. Your lawyer cannot do it alone. So make a plan. How do you get from here to the final divorce? Your lawyer should lay out the strategy before being hired.
Stephen Friedman is a senior principal in JGL’s Family Law Group. He has 47 years of experience in complex and contested divorce and custody cases. An eminent courtroom advocate, he has successfully tried hundreds of family law matters with a focus on helping clients restore stability to their lives.