Understands what is truly important
A good family lawyer must have the ability to recognize what issues are truly important. Sadly, some attorneys are more concerned with maximizing legal fees than with the important issues of a family law case. A good family lawyer will not allow him or herself to be derailed by miscellany. Emotions tend to run rampant for those involved in family law matters, and this can lead the parties to blow petty issues out of proportion. Your lawyer should be frank and honest with you, and he or she should let you know if you are being unreasonable or if you are wasting your time bickering over a particular issue. You should be able to trust your family law attorney as a professional advisor – someone who will give you good advice, not just what you want to hear. Moreover, you do not want your attorney to develop a reputation with the judge or opposing counsel for fighting over frivolous issues. This will lead to increased, unnecessary legal fees, and it will also make it more difficult for your attorney to prevail on truly important issues.
Family law matters, particularly divorce, are extremely emotional in nature and entail a high level of drama for almost everyone involved. This is true for not only the parties themselves, but for the children, caretakers, grandparents, business partners, etc. of the parties as well. The last thing you want is your attorney contributing to the tornado of emotions. Your attorney should always act maturely, calmly and rationally, and he or she should demonstrate patience with both you and the other side. A lawyer who is hot-headed will only hinder the process. Judges and opposing counsel will quickly grow tired of dealing with a lawyer they deem explosive, and this will ultimately lead to nothing but increased expense and animosity for the remainder of the action.
A good Pennsylvania family law attorney should be up-to-date on the Pennsylvania family law field as well as technology. Family law vocabulary and statutes change regularly, so it is important that your lawyer is aware of the latest legal developments. For example, the Pennsylvania legislature very recently rewrote its child custody law, and this change will certainly affect Pennsylvania child custody matters filed in 2011. It is imperative that your lawyer be on top of legal changes such as this.
Your attorney should be up-to-date with current technology as well. Your attorney should be able to utilize technological tools for your family law matter, such as internet legal research and electronic filing. At the very least, you want your attorney to have an email address and website where you can contact him or her.
Good family law attorneys are skilled at identifying problems and working to find constructive, practical solutions to solve them. If your attorney speaks strictly in terms of winning and losing, this is a huge red flag, and you may want to consider finding new representation. High-quality family law attorneys are solution-oriented and aim to reduce time and expense for the client through reasonable compromises. Your attorney should work with you to identify major issues that are important to you and exercise creativity in developing resolutions to those issues. Solutions to these problems may take various forms, including simple advice, counseling, mediation, conferences with the opposing party, or trial in front of a judge. An attorney who doesn’t work to resolve problems before going to court will likely be a poor investment for you.