Every single day people asks me about how much a divorce or custody case costs. They ask whether we’re affordable, whether we have payment plans, and whether we offer free consultations. They ask about our hourly rates and our retainer fees and whether we offer flat fee billing. They ask what our paralegals and secretaries cost, and they definitely ask for overall estimates of the cost of their case.
There’s no question that the question of “how much” is an important one. But how much does it really matter?
At the end of the day, I suspect that, although cost is something that most of us want to know beforehand, it’s not the most important factor. In fact, I know it’s not because we ask our clients about the factors that impacted their decisions and, time and time again, even the women who struggle to pay the costs of legal representation rank the costs of representation as one of the LEAST important factors affecting their decision.
Do they want to know, beforehand, what the costs will look like? Certainly. But, at the end of the day, cost isn’t the most important factor.
I understand. Though I always wonder about costs when it comes to expensive things, like medical treatments, at the end of the day the most important thing to me is that I have the best doctor possible. You aren’t really looking for an “affordable” doctor; you aren’t looking for someone who offers payment plans. You’re looking for the best woman (or man, I guess) to do the job. Right? In fact, when I hear the word affordable, especially in the context of something as important as a legal or medical service, I worry a little. Is this person affordable because they cut corners? Are they inexperienced? Do they have a poor reputation in the community?
A medical treatment is important, and it can have a lot to do with your prognosis as it relates to recovery. It can make you better or worse—depending on the type of treatment and the level of expertise or ineptitude of the person performing it. You can’t trust just anyone; you want to be sure that you’re hiring the best person for the work you need.
You know the saying—“you get what you pay for”. If your attorney or your doctor is affordable, the implication is also that he or she is not necessarily the best. In fact, almost without exception, the affordable option is NOT the best option. (Someone who is, in fact, the best doesn’t have to be affordable; her professional reputation speaks for itself.)
So, when you’re considering hiring an attorney, do you care about the price? Of course you do. But there are definitely other factors to consider, too—and price is only one among them.
When you’re looking to hire a divorce attorney, there are plenty of things that matter more than price. I think most people ask about price first because they’re not sure what else to ask; they know that there has to be a way to tell between the good, the bad, and the average attorneys, and price is one of the quickest and easiest ways to begin to discriminate.
Once you’re really starting to think about whether to hire an attorney and, if so, whom, you’ll want to know a whole lot more than just how much it’ll cost you to hire a particular attorney. You’ll want to know more about them.
It can be hard to tell attorneys apart. You know you want someone awesome, but you just don’t know how to tell them apart.
If you’re considering hiring an attorney and want to make sure you hire the right person for the job, consider requesting a copy of my book, “The Woman’s Guide to Selecting an Outstanding Family Law Attorney.” It’ll help take you through the questions you should ask before you make a decision to hire an attorney.
In addition to providing you with a list of questions you should ask an attorney in an initial consultation, the book will also help you differentiate between sites that exist to advertise attorneys and ones that will help you tell good attorneys from bad (think: Avvo, Martindale-Hubble, FindLaw, and others), and give you a scoresheet to take with you to your initial consultation so that you can keep track of how one attorney stacks up against others.
There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re thinking about hiring an attorney, and you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. Still, it’s hard to know exactly what questions you should be asking. If you haven’t done this before, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask. That’s one of the reasons people fall back on asking about price; it’s something that is quickly and easily understandable.
To request a free copy of our book, click here. We’ll send you an electronic copy of the book right away, and, if you live in our immediate area, we’ll also send you a hard copy. (Don’t worry; we send it in a plain white envelope, so no one will know what you’re getting.)
To get even more information, it’s also not a bad idea to consider attending one of our monthly divorce seminars. Each one is taught by one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce attorneys, and covers the divorce process in Virginia, including what you need to know about hiring an attorney—and the costs associated.
Our Second Saturday seminars are taught three times a month—twice in Virginia Beach, on the Second Saturday and Third Tuesday of the month, and once in Newport News on the Second Saturday of the month. It’s a great way to get information directly from an attorney, without having to pay the high cost of an initial consultation. Click here for more information about our divorce seminars.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys, experienced in representing women only in divorce and custody cases, give our office a call at (757) 425-5200.