Finding a divorce lawyer
April 18, 2006 3:54 PM   Subscribe

How do you find a good divorce lawyer?

A family member is about to go through a divorce. Her husband is already fighting dirty. How can she find the best lawyer to represent her? Is their any way to find out about reputation other than word of mouth? She's in Houston (but I'm not sure where their legal residence is --either Houston or Denver), so if you have any personal recommendations, bring them on.

While I'm sure that mediation and other alternative methods of resolution are great, they are not really an option at this time.
posted by LittleMissCranky to Law & Government (17 answers total)
I asked friends. One in particular had an attorney he used for his business. He asked that attorney who came back with several recommendations, as well as comments, and strengths and weaknesses of each.

Like other professionals, lawyers' repuatations spread quickest among their own.

Good luck to your friend.
posted by The Deej at 4:03 PM on April 18, 2006

IAAL, and word of mouth amongst lawyers is by far the best way to go. If you know a good lawyer, ask for a referral.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:22 PM on April 18, 2006

Ditto Ironmouth. Where are you at?
posted by MeetMegan at 4:26 PM on April 18, 2006

IAAL as well, and i agree. if you don't know a good lawyer, ask your friends who might know good lawyers. also, don't be afraid to interview more than one lawyer. you won't find out everything, but you'll have some idea of what the lawyer is like.

your local bar association can point you to any directory of peer ratings that is available in the area if you are absolutely unable to get a personal referral from anyone.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:31 PM on April 18, 2006

the lexis-nexis martindale hubble law directory is kind of your standard lawyer locator... it can be helpful, in that it will usually show a given attorney's credentials, etc...

that being said, i'd check whatever city's local business magazine - many tend to have a "best lawyer by practice area" issue or feature every year.
posted by ab3 at 4:40 PM on April 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is tough if you do not know a number of attorneys. While not always a good indicator, I would ask around and find out which attornetys tend to represent other attorneys during their divorce proceedings. Who are the attorney's attorneys and the physician's physicians.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:56 PM on April 18, 2006

IAAL as well, and third, fourth, fifth talking to any lawyers you may know, regardless of practice area. When I needed a divorce lawyer it's what I did, and I wound up with a great referral, that came via someone who does appellate-level civil rights litigation. Personal referral is by far the best way to go, in my experience.
posted by ambrosia at 6:24 PM on April 18, 2006

IANAL, but I am a family law paralegal.
The AAML has standards for membership, so it's a place to start.
This would be, of course, in addition to word-of-mouth among lawyers.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 8:13 PM on April 18, 2006

She can also call the local women's shelter or Legal Aid. They often know which lawyers are good in nasty divorces.
posted by theora55 at 8:23 PM on April 18, 2006

If there is large amount of money at stake, Raoul Felder in New York is the King.
posted by semmi at 10:34 PM on April 18, 2006

Folks, the venue is Houston or Denver.

IAAL, and I also agree with word-of-mouth and also interviewing multiple candidates. Go into their offices, sit down, and ask lots of questions. You're looking for someone with experience (i.e., at least 8-10 years doing divorces), and someone who is going to spend quality time on your case (i.e., not farm it out to a junior person and never speak to you again). So . . . ask about experience and results, and ask about who will be working on your case (associates, paralegals, etc.). You want someone with a good staff/team (and having junior people on the case can save you money), but you want to make sure that the head honcho will be around for strategy issues and questions.

I would also ask them directly what their plan will be for getting you a good result with minimal court proceedings. The longer the thing drags out, the more money will be lost to legal fees, which is bad for all involved. The attorney should have a concrete plan for how he/she is going to jump in and resolve things quickly. Of course, if the husband is unreasonable, this will be hard, but still, there should at least be a plan. The last thing you want is someone who is going to view the case as a long drawn-out war ending in a nasty trial. Very expensive, very wasteful. To get a good settlement, you need to be able to threaten war credibly, but there should be another plan also. Remember, the lawyer gets paid either way, so the customer needs to be wary of getting into a protracted battle.

This may mean you want someone tough, but also someone who is going to be the cooler head in the room and find a solution even if the husband is acting up.
posted by Mid at 6:40 AM on April 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

A good place to find smart (or at least ambitious) lawyers is your State Legislature. If you don't know any attorneys, you should speak to your legislators. They will know lawyers, and be able to speak with authority on which are good ones.
Good Luck!
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:10 AM on April 19, 2006

Just as a side-note to Mid's suggestions, you should always ask whether the lawyer charges for the consultation. Some do.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:44 AM on April 19, 2006

Hah. My cousin in Houston went through a nasty divorce (and is still going through a nasty custody battle). I'll see if I can get a referral.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:05 AM on April 19, 2006

MissCranky, I emailed you a Denver referral.

Hope it helps.
posted by Sheppagus at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2006

try findlaw

Also, I sublease space to three lawyers here in Houston, all of whom could direct you to the right person if they don't want to handle it themselves. Email me through the link on my profile if you're interested.
posted by marc1919 at 7:49 PM on April 19, 2006

Email on the way, LittleMissCranky.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:45 PM on April 25, 2006

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