In the July issue, I highlighted different options one may have when going down the path of a dissolution of marriage. If that path includes hiring an attorney, there are many factors to consider before making this difficult decision. Below are some tips for choosing a family law lawyer in California:

1. Stay local: look for an attorney that practices family law in your specific county.  A California attorney can practice anywhere in the state, however it is beneficial to have an attorney that knows the specific procedures and rules of the county your case is in. Typically, such attorneys also have prior experience with your county judges and court staff, which is ideal.

2. Seek recommendations: Talk to friends, family members, or colleagues who have gone through the family law process. However, remember that every person’s situation is different. An attorney that may have achieved great results for one person may not necessarily be the right fit for another.

3. Online reviews: You can also look up online reviews of attorneys to get an idea of their reputation. However, take such reviews with a grain of salt. Sometimes disgruntled opposing parties pose as a client to try and sabotage an online reputation, so read the review carefully to ensure they sound legitimate.

4. Schedule a consultation: Many lawyers offer initial consultations to prospective clients. Take advantage of this opportunity and set up multiple interviews to not only ask the questions you need answered, but also to get a sense of the lawyer's approach to your case.

5. Consider communication skills: Family law cases can be emotionally charged, so it is important to choose a lawyer who communicates effectively and is able to listen to your concerns. Look for an attorney who is responsive, accessible, and able to explain legal concepts in a way that you can understand.

6. Discuss fees: Family law cases can be expensive, so be sure to discuss fees and billing arrangements with the lawyer upfront. You should also ask about any additional costs or fees that may arise over the course of your case.

7. Trust your gut: Ultimately, it is important to choose a lawyer who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to advocate on your behalf.