How Do You Know If You Have a Good Lawyer?
By M. J. Goodwin, Goodwin Attorney at Law, LLC
Attorneys come in all shapes and sizes. I have had clients choose me because I am female. I am sure I have had other people avoid me because I am female. All sorts of arbitrary factors go into a person’s choice of attorney. But are the arbitrary reasons a good way to choose an attorney? Probably not. So how does one choose a good lawyer?
I have been practicing for over 20 years. I have significant family law experience in all areas of Family Court practice. My case experience has included: millionaires; high value asset cases; paupers; victims of horrible abuse; adultery; physical cruelty; grandparent issues; step-parent issues; fathers getting custody; “odd” sexual issues such as “swinging” and various fetish behavior; drug addicts; recovering drug addicts; all sorts of violence and crimes; seriously mentally ill clients, opposing parties and spouses and occasionally difficult or unprofessional opposing counsel. Of course that list is not exhaustive. It simply provides a sampling of the areas in which I have experience. I am extremely competent to handle any Family Law matter. In fact, on paper, I am great.
But am I a good lawyer? Most of my clients express satisfaction with my firm’s representation of them. But why are they happy, at least as happy as a person can be in a family court situation?
I think it boils down to HOW I practice law. It is important to remember that your lawyer is not your friend or your buddy. Your lawyer is just that: your lawyer. It is my job to help my clients through difficult legal situations. Some ways I try to do that are:
- Let the client know what my best estimate is for how much the case will cost and how I expect it to be paid. No, it’s not free. And yes, your lawyer is in it for the money! (Why do you go to work each day?)
- I know the law. I read the case law regularly and am familiar with the Court rules. This is crucial. Clients should be advised immediately if they are trying to do something that is not feasible, practical or legal!
- I ask each client what his or her ultimate goal is. I try to keep the focus on that goal, even with life throws various curve balls. Distractions are everywhere! Eyes on the prize people! Sometimes it is very hard to be patient!
- I try to anticipate potential problems. I try to help my clients avoid pitfalls.
- If there is a problem, help offer solutions. Be creative. I have great success here.
- I try to be a good steward of my client’s money. Every thing I do costs money. I always ask if it is worth doing. For example, mediation can often be avoided by doing my own settlement negotiations! Client saves money on mediation and on my legal fees.
- Cultural issues may play into a client’s situation. I try to be sensitive to that.
- Be nice! Bad news doesn’t have to be conveyed in a disrespectful manner.
- Once a client takes a position, I fight for it! Advocate, advocate, advocate!
- If it is out of my area of expertise, I help find someone who knows what he/she is doing!
- If it’s bad news, I am honest about it. There is not point in sugar coating bad news. However, I also point out the positive things! Rarely is it all bad news. Even if a result is not exactly what a client wanted, there are usually things to be happy about.
So if you have need for a lawyer, decide what you want. If you want a “screamer”, that is not going to be my firm. If you want a solid advocate with a great record, give us call or fill out our contact form. We would be honored to help you!