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How do you find a good divorce lawyer?

(32 Posts)
lulupop Mon 03-Jan-05 09:34:14

God what a depressing thread title that is. Was just wondering how one is meant to choose a solicitor? The only time I have ever seen a solicitor was when we made wills recently.

I am in the unenviable position of wanting to see a family law solicitor to find out what my position would be in the event of a separation/divorce. Not very happy with the idea of just going to someone I've randomly selected out of the yellow pages but don't really want to go round asking friends for recommendations (for obvious reasons!). So how do you find out who's any good?

stressedmummy Mon 03-Jan-05 09:50:28

Well done lulupop, for thinking about getting things moving.
I can't give you any advice, because I wouldn't have a clue where to start myself!
Just wanted to say well done for making moves towards a new start in the new year!

FeastofStevenmom Mon 03-Jan-05 09:57:55

legal 500 website?

SueW Mon 03-Jan-05 10:13:09

You can look here

JudgeFlounce Mon 03-Jan-05 10:52:25

Message deleted

NameChangingMancMidlander Mon 03-Jan-05 11:30:55

It is pretty grim but I would certainly suggest that a personal recommendation is the best way to go. Best of luck, sorry you are going through this

SofiaAmes Mon 03-Jan-05 22:33:14

I would recommend going with personal recommendations. Are you in london? My boss seemed to think his solicitor was very good. I spoke to him (the solicitor) a few times on the phone and he seemd very nice. I think he's a mid-priced solicitor. CAT me if you want the info.

lulupop Tue 04-Jan-05 16:15:21

Thanks Sofia, but unfortunately I'm in Kent.

Thanks for the link, SueW, I used it and have found a local solicitor who I've made an appt with for next week.

However, my next question is: what is the "standard" (if there is such a thing) rate for a family law solicitor these days? I know everyone jokes about lawyers being incredibly expensive, but even so I was surprised when the woman on the telephone told me the fees.

Basically, it's £58 for a 30 minute initial consultation, where you explain your situation and the solicitor gives you advice. So far so good, as that's all I need at the moment. But subsequent fees are £175 per hour (or £155 for the other solicitor in this practice - either way it's pretty expensive). When I think about how many phone calls and so on are probably required when dealing with a divorce, it seems as though things would work out very expensive at those rates.

Is this price high, normal, or what? Should I "shop around", or do you get what you pay for?

JudgeFlounce Tue 04-Jan-05 19:39:34

Message deleted

Freckle Tue 04-Jan-05 20:08:23

Are you working, lulupop? If not, then you'll need to see if your solicitor does legal aid (or whatever stupid name they give it these days). In the case of a divorce, your dh's income will be disregarded for the purposes of legal aid, as will any equity in your property.

I'm in Kent and might be able to suggest good solicitors or indicate whether the firm you have instructed are viewed favourably or not. If you don't want to name them here, CAT me. If I don't know of them, I'll ask the family lawyer at dh's firm if he knows of them.

The figures you have been quoted sound pretty standard. The £58 is presumably a reduced fee initial interview and the other rate is the solicitor's normal hourly rate. If you are eligible for legal aid, hourly rates shouldn't worry you - but you need to check if your solicitor holds a legal aid franchise as not many do these days unfortunately.

JudgeFlounce Tue 04-Jan-05 20:17:23

Message deleted

Freckle Tue 04-Jan-05 20:24:34

No. He's a current lawyer, I'm a previous lawyer (gave up due to children) now working for the CAB. I also do some librarian work for dh's firm - and use dh's partners as some sort of private line of advice .

JudgeFlounce Tue 04-Jan-05 20:46:02

Message deleted

JudgeFlounce Tue 04-Jan-05 20:46:39

Message deleted

lulupop Tue 04-Jan-05 20:52:40

I am not working (or rather, work 24 hours a day as SAHM but am not in paid empoloyment!)

I did wonder about legal aid, as DH is in a highly paid job.

Clearly at this stage I don't want him to know I am going to see a solicitor - it's more to do with me wanting to find out my position in advance of any further unpleasantness. The woman on the phone did ask if I'd be requiring legal aid, which I took as implying that they do do legal aid work.

Freckle, am going to CAT you.

SofiaAmes Tue 04-Jan-05 23:14:16

I think that the family law solicitor that we used when dh couldn't get access to his children cost about twice that per hour. I think it's important to speak to someone who specializes in divorce or at least family law.

lulupop Wed 05-Jan-05 07:33:00

wow, now I know why it is that all my friends who have children in private school are married to lawyers!

I chose this particular solicitor after looking on the SFLA webiste recommended by SueW, and she (the solicitor) seems to have beena family law specialist for 20 yrs or so, so I expect she's worth the money.

Roll on Monday. Half an hour doesn't seem like much time to cover all the facts relating to mortgage, custody, unreasonable behaviour etc. |Can anyone tell me what sort of information I should take with me, and what I should aim to get out of this first meeting?

Freckle Wed 05-Jan-05 09:00:25

I should add, before anyone gets the idea that all solicitors are rolling in it, that the hourly rate a solicitor charges is not what they are paid! Wish it were. We certainly can't afford to send our children to private schools.

Hope your appointment goes well, lulupop. It might help to write down all relevant information, such as (off the top of my head):

date of marriage
dates of birth of children
details of dh's income
details of any savings
property details, including rough idea of current value and outstanding balance on any mortgage, plus details of lender
if possible, take your marriage certificate with you (this will be required if you decide to go for a divorce)
details of why you want a divorce, e.g. adultery, unreasonable behaviour, etc.
rough idea of your monthly expenditure

The more prepared you are, the more you will get out of the interview and the eaiser it will be for the solicitor to give you the best advice.

I'm sure Judge F. will come up with some other things to think about. Writing it down makes it easier to avoid forgetting something essential and, if you take 2 copies, you can give one to the solicitor.

lulupop Wed 05-Jan-05 13:24:59

Thanks for that, Freckle.

Of course I do realise the hourly rate doesn't equal the individual's income - nonetheless it is true that all my friends with kids in private school are married to lawyers. They are all City lawyers though.

Think I may have missed a trick there as always thought I'd become one myself, instead of which I had 2 children. I wonder if it's too late to retrain?

lowcalCOD Wed 05-Jan-05 13:26:17

my tip woudl be to go out of your local town. lawyere are realyl chatter boxes abd are very indeiscreet ime
do you want your settlement to be chatted baout alla round town?

Iloveromance Wed 05-Jan-05 13:34:48

Message withdrawn

Freckle Wed 05-Jan-05 13:50:22

IME most lawyers do not discuss individual cases. This would be a breach of client confidentiality and frowned upon most seriously.

Besides which lawyers from all towns often meet up at conferences, seminars, etc. so it makes b&gger all difference.

lowcalCOD Wed 05-Jan-05 14:01:30

god oyu should hear htem at the mag court then freckle!

lowcalCOD Wed 05-Jan-05 14:03:31

in fact it got so bad that they had to isseeu a reminder to them all

Freckle Wed 05-Jan-05 14:08:25

Is that criminal lawyers, cod? I should imagine that gossiping about their clients is probably the only way to stay sane .

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