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Got a Good Lawyer Series, Post 2

July 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Family Law

Got a Good Laywer  Part II

Last week, I introduced a new blog series, called “Got a Good Lawyer?” In the post, I shared that the most important thing to consider when you’re looking for the best representation in Minnesota is to pick the lawyer that is the best fit for you and your divorce. I also told you that the purpose of the series is to help you judge whether a divorce lawyer is right for you or not by evaluating him/her on 10 specific criteria. So this week, I’ll get started by identifying and discussing the first 2 criteria: COMMUNCATION and PERSONALITY.

     1. COMMUNICATION:

Perhaps one of the most significant factors to take into consideration before hiring your divorce lawyer, is to clarify communication procedures ahead of time.

For example, you’ll want to know the answers to questions such as,

  • “How can you get a hold of your lawyer when you need to talk with him/her about your divorce case?”
  • “Does your divorce lawyer have open office hours or is s/he able to meet with you in the community?”
  • If you prefer to talk on the phone, email, fax, text, skype, etc… “Does the divorce lawyer currently have systems in place to match your preferred method of communication?”
  • If your divorce lawyer is unavailable… “How long will it take for him/her to get back to you?”
  • “How often will your divorce lawyer update you on your case?

The last question is important because if you’re someone who wants to be updated immediately and frequently throughout your divorce case, you want to make sure that the divorce attorney that you pick has the resources needed (whether that means the divorce attorney has a legal assistant, a manageable caseload, etc…) to meet your preferences.

     2. PERSONALITY:

Sometimes people just rub you the wrong way and you can’t necessarily put your finger on what it is that bothers you.

     When you first meet with your divorce lawyer, consider the following…

  • How do you feel around him/her?
  • Does s/he seem genuine and authentic when talking with you?
  • How long did you have to wait in the reception area before s/he greeted you for your intake appointment?
  • Did s/he offer you a beverage and try to make you feel welcomed and comfortable in the office?

Importance of Initial Consultation with Divorce Lawyer

Why does it matter if you meet with your divorce lawyer in person before hiring him/her? Well, if you don’t meet with him/her in person, you’re making it harder on yourself. Here’s why…

Research from UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian demonstrates that we infer meaning and our understanding of someone not on what they say to us, but how they say it. In fact, body language accounts for 55%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, while words account for a mere 7%. In addition, when someone’s verbal communication doesn’t match their non-verbal communication, we believe the non-verbal communication to be more valid.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

We’ve all experienced this in real life. For example, when you ask a friend how she’s doing and she says fine, but you notice that her eyes are glossy from holding back tears.

Do you actually believe that she is fine? No.

Although she says she’s fine (verbal communication), her facial expression (non-verbal communication) says otherwise. And since the two don’t match…we deem the non-verbal as the true message, which then guides our behavior to try and comfort her, instead of talking about the promotion we just got at work.

Therefore, if you’re trying to get a sense of whether this divorce lawyer or that divorce lawyer is a good fit for you, you can only get the whole picture by meeting with him/her in person. Otherwise, as the research shows, you’re making a decision without having all the information.

No Free Initial Consultation Offered

Unfortunately, some divorce lawyers charge a fee for the initial consultation. Not being able to meet your divorce lawyer in person makes it harder to get to know his/her personality. However, you can get a glimpse of your divorce lawyer’s personality by searching for him/her on social media. Try checking out your divorce lawyer by visiting his/her Google+ page, Website, LinkedIn account, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or You Tube channel.

No Free Initial Consultation & No Social Media Presence

If the divorce lawyer you’re considering doesn’t offer a free initial consultation to meet him/her in person and s/he doesn’t participate in social media, then how is s/he trying to meet your needs? The fact that the divorce lawyer doesn’t offer the opportunity to meet in person and also doesn’t participate in social media already tells you a lot about his/her personality.

However, if this is the case and you’re still interested in the divorce lawyer, then the additional criteria to come will have more weight in your decision on who you decide to hire and I highly recommend you come back next week when I share criteria 3 and 4.

One Last Thing on Personality

I’m not saying that the two of you (you and you’re divorce lawyer) have to be kindred spirits. In fact, I think we all know that even if your best friend happened to be a divorce attorney, that it would be in your best interest NOT to retain him/her as your divorce lawyer.

I simply just wanted to point out that things typically go a lot smoother when you’re not also budding heads with your divorce lawyer and having to deal with clashing personalities.

What Do You Think?

  • What are some communication practices that you wish divorce lawyers would use more often?
  • What personal qualities do you look for in a divorce lawyer?
  • Or what qualities make a good lawyer?

Please check back next week to see our next post in the “Got a Good Lawyer” series. Please take a moment to add to the discussion by commenting in the section below. Look forward to reading what you have to say! Thanks!

Sources:

Mehrabian, Albert; Wiener, Morton (1967). “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 6 (1): 109–114.

Mehrabian, Albert; Ferris, Susan R. (1967). “Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels”. Journal of Consulting Psychology 31 (3): 248–252.

– Author: Rachel Rogers, Editor: Matthew Majeski on behalf of Majeski Law, LLC

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