What Questions Should I Ask a Reference to Pre-Screen a Divorce Attorney?

Your friend from book club has given you the name of the divorce lawyer they used a couple of years back, and highly recommends you meet with them to discuss the details of your divorce. When you’re faced with a list of possible candidates, a recommendation from someone you know can do a lot to help with the decision.

It’s also an opportunity to pre-screen the divorce lawyer, especially if your friend is willing to share a little more about their experience with them.

Consider taking a few minutes with your friend and asking some or all of the following pre-screening question.

  • How did you choose your attorney?

Trace back the line of recommendations to see where your friend originally got their name. If this person or firm has been used by friends of your friend, it indicates an even broader web of trust.

  • In what ways were you satisfied with how your case was handled?

What stands out as points that your friend truly appreciated your

  • What was your attorney the best with?

Did they have negotiating tactics unlike any you had ever seen, finding strategic areas to address on every major point?

  • What was your attorney less capable at?

Perhaps their communications skills weren’t as top notch as their negotiating capabilities. Are these lesser strengths areas you are willing to compromise on?

  • What did you wish was handled differently?

Looking back, how could the lawyer have better addressed certain aspects of the proceedings?

  • Were you confident your lawyer negotiated the fairest possible deal?

Knowing all the details of your marital assets and divorce terms, were you happy overall with the final results of the negotiation? Did you feel your lawyer focused on the areas that were most important to you?

  • What was your fee arrangement?

Find a way to ask about money in a non-specific way that doesn’t require your friend to give up any details if they aren’t comfortable with that.

  • Did you discover anything that was overlooked after your divorce was settled?

Once the dust had settled, were there any areas that your lawyer had missed altogether? How could that have been avoided?

  • How did your lawyer approach relations with you and your spouse?

It’s important to understand if the attorney will be helping or hindering any necessary communications with your spouse.

  • Was your attorney available to you when you had questions?

How long did you have to wait for a returned phone call? Were there others in the office who were able to answer questions if your own lawyer was busy?

  • Would you use the same attorney again?

Hypothetically, of course, if your friend were to go through a divorce, or another form of litigation, is this person someone they would trust to take charge of the proceedings once again?

As you search for someone who can skillfully and strategically take charge of your divorce proceedings, representing the best interests of you and your family, consider what capabilities and qualities are most important to you. Talking more in-depth with a referring friend gives you a good idea if this is that attorney or not, even before you meet with them in person.