We recently ran a number of on-line searches for divorce attorneys in Dutchess County, New York using a number of different word searches. The results were frightening! These searches lead uninformed people seeking divorce lawyers to some of the worst divorce attorneys in our community. You are much better off getting a referral from your accountant, your financial planner, your attorney for some other purpose, your clergy or a friend who had a good experience with their divorce lawyer.
Why did we take the time to search? Partially because we were examining our own marketing practices, but mostly because we see that these irresponsible attorneys are getting lots of clients. We are concerned by the number of clients we have whose spouse ends up with one of these bad attorneys and because some of our clients start off with one of these bad attorneys and then realize after spending some time with these lawyers that something is definitely not right about the attorney they hired, and then they are referred to us. The involvement of these bad attorneys in our cases are detrimental and at times completely destructive in so many ways to present and future of the parties and their family.
When we characterize these attorneys as “bad” or “the worst attorneys,” what does that mean? It includes:
- attorneys who do not educate their clients on the various options to get divorced including all of the process options to stay out of court;
- attorneys who just take people’s money but do not do any work for their client, and then won’t give any of the money back to the client when requested;
- attorneys who do not pay attention to their client or the client’s case;
- attorneys who do not return telephone calls to their client or to the opposing attorney;
- attorneys who either do not show up at court appearances or who show up late;
- attorneys who are unwilling to settle the case in an efficient, cost-effective, and productive manner;
- attorneys who want to bill their clients for as much money as they can without doing any work;
- attorneys who give their clients completely false and unrealistic expectations, which makes it very difficult to settle a case and causes substantial unnecessary expense;
- attorneys who violate the rules of professional responsibility and the professional ethics code in how they treat their clients and opposing counsel.
Unfortunately, what many people do not realize is that attorneys pay a lot of money in order to show up on the first few pages of these on-line searches, to repeatedly run television and radio advertising spots, and to be “rated” by on-line legal service providers/marketers. The fact that they can pay the money to advertise in any of these mediums means nothing about their competence – it just means they are willing to pay to advertise. Showing up in an online search or on the radio should not be considered as any indicator of their reputation, experience, or ability to effectively practice matrimonial and family law.
In fact, highly experienced attorneys with very good reputations, including our firm, get most of their clients from a referral network of professionals, including accountants, financial advisors, medical professionals, mental health professionals, other attorneys, business owners, and religious leaders, as well as from former and current clients. These referral sources know and have experience with how a particular attorney or firm manages their cases, works with their clients, helps their clients, and gets good results for their clients. Recommendations from experienced professionals and satisfied clients are the main sources people should use when searching for an experienced and competent divorce attorney.
We understand the circumstances that people must be going through when they are searching for a divorce attorney- they are either considering divorce or are thrust into a divorce situation by their spouse. Emotions run wild during that time in a person’s life – and the tornado of feelings can interfere with making good choices. But we want to strongly caution people against hiring any attorney they find in an on-line search that only exists because the attorney paid money for it. We encourage people to find out more about an attorney and a person’s actual experience with that attorney before consulting with them and retaining them.