[Guest post by Jacqueline Newman, a matrimonial attorney who practices litigation, collaboration and mediation, sets some solid criteria for choosing the right attorney for you.]
One of the most common complaints my clients voice is disappointment with their matrimonial attorneys. After suffering a breach of trust and having a central relationship deteriorate, divorcees many times find themselves in an unhealthy relationship with one of the most important people in their present life, their attorney. There are often issues of miscommunication, mistrust and misunderstanding. When you are struggling to put your life back together and navigate a world that seems foreign to you, you want to insure that your ‘partner’, your attorney is a good fit.
Choosing an attorney – the person with whom you are going to entrust with the future of what you hold most dear to you (your children and your financial future) – is a very important part of moving forward with the decision to divorce.
When looking for an attorney, you need to make sure you select a person with whom you feel comfortable. If do not feel like you can tell your attorney anything, or feel judged by your attorney, then that person may not be the right attorney for you. You could hire an attorney with the highest pedigree but if you do not feel comfortable communicating with that person, then he or she will not be in a position to display the intelligence and expertise that you hired them for in the first place. Therefore, being comfortable with your attorney is one of the most important aspects in choosing the right person for you.
You also have to be very upfront with your attorney about what your expectations are during the process and advise him or her if he or she are not meeting your expectations. They do not teach mind reading in law school, so you need to be vocal with the person representing you. Some clients want to know every little thing that happens in their case – a recap of every phone call with opposing counsel – while other clients only want to be bothered when there is something significant going on.
I had a client who only wanted to receive emails in the morning, so he would not be thinking about it all night, while I had another client who only wanted to be emailed at night because she did not want to be distracted at work. As an attorney, we want to work with our clients in the best way that works for them. It is the client’s job to let us know what way that is. Divorce is a hard enough process… if you feel that your attorney is not emotionally supporting or communicating with you in the way you need, please let your attorney know.
Jacqueline Newman joined Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd, LLP in 1998 and has been a partner since 2005. Ms. Newman’s practice consists of litigation, collaborative law and mediation. She specializes in complex high net worth matrimonial cases and negotiating prenuptial agreements. Ms. Newman has taught the Collaborative Family Law class for The NY Association of Collaborative Professionals and the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as the Introduction of Matrimonial Law for Collaborative Divorce Professionals for the New York State Unified Court System. At Fordham University School of Law, she taught Family Law Practice as an assistant professor to Barry Berkman. Jacqueline Newman is also one of the youngest matrimonial attorneys in New York City to be selected for inclusion in Thompson Reuters New York-Metro Super Lawyers Edition 2012.