Interviewing a Divorce Lawyer is a Two Way Street -Highlights of an Initial Consultation: When contemplating the merits and pitfalls of getting a divorce, most clients contact an attorney to get information about divorces in general and, hopefully, some personal guidance on how, if and when to proceed. I’ll bet though that most people don’t realize that during the initial consultation, they are being interviewed by the lawyer as well. Both the lawyer and a prospective client, consciously and unconsciously, evaluate the other’s personality, appearance, tone of voice and attitude. Finding the right fit for both parties is essential and collaborative lawyers excel at putting clients at ease and helping them determine the best course of action for their family. Divorce lawyers know that it takes a lot of courage to call and make an appointment to discuss your family. We also know that your first visit to our office can be unsettling and even make you feel sick. That is why I make such an effort to ensure my office is calm and welcoming. I strive to help potential clients feel at ease and safe as we talk about the most personal details of their family. A general history of your family is the first topic. Biographical stuff, like when were you married? do you have children? what brings you here? I enjoy hearing my client’s stories about their lives, their kids, their jobs because it helps me evaluate their case on many different levels. Getting a complete initial understanding of the issues each client faces helps me frame my comments to address those issues. Every case and every client is different so this process of discovery and learning is vital to a successful attorney client relationship. Next are the money questions. Without getting into micro details, I will take an inventory of your family’s income(s), assets and liabilities. We discuss pre-marital property, inheritances, joint marital debt and many related topics. It is impossible to complete this task in the first meeting so I give you a list of items to gather for our next working appointment. It is helpful to bring to the consultation a copy of your last filed income tax return, a copy of any existing Pre-Nuptial agreement you signed and a simple list of assets and accounts you and your spouse own jointly or individually. In reality, this practice can be feast or famine! Some clients are not into the paperwork and come empty handed or may have no personal knowledge of their family finances; others bring me glorious excel spreadsheets in multiple colors. Either way, I can work with it because I always hand out homework assignments to clients along with my popular stress balls. A thorough discussion of the client’s divorce process options follows. Mediation? Collaborative? Litigation? I review the pros and cons, including the financial and emotional costs of each alternative and the client considers which divorce process suits their family and financial situation best. Naturally, this decision isn’t always made in the first meeting unless one option is obviously preferable. After this review, client’s have the basic education and insight they need to begin a divorce, if and when, they are ready to return for our next meeting.