Interviewer: What are some qualities in a family law attorney that I should be looking for when seeking to retain an attorney? At the same time, what are some red flags?
Knowledge of the Law Is Essential
Wendy Doyle: Knowledge of the law is essential. Since you deal with the attorney on a limited basis, you’re not going to know if an attorney knows what they’re doing or not. Unfortunately, I only see that in my practice.
Is the Attorney Interested in the Family Structure and Looking for Ways to Keep Costs Down?
It can be helpful if people are able to get a feel for the attorney they are speaking with. Possibly they can sense they are not all about the bottom line and whether or not they care about the family structure. I do. If I see people that are fighting each other, it can run up your fees. The attorney’s going to make money off of it. I stop that in their tracks. I send them off to a parent facilitator to resolve issues.
You can ask for credentials. Unfortunately, the Florida Bar does not allow us to tell details about our past cases. We’re not allowed to guarantee results. When you’re having an initial interview with a prospective attorney, they want your business. It is best to know in advance that you may experience some sales tactics.
How Often Does the Attorney Appear in Court?
I would ask how often the attorney appears in court and how long their cases go on for. I’m in court all the time. I don’t like my cases to linger a year. That’s long, but keep in mind that it does take a period of time to get on a court calendar and have motions heard. But you don’t want to have your case linger on forever.
The biggest thing I would be watching out for is somebody who wants to make money off of your case and not care about the family structure. I see that all the time. It’s heartbreaking.
Attorneys Are Not Permitted to Offer Prospective Clients Guaranteed Results
Interviewer: Are some attorneys giving guarantees?
Wendy Doyle: We’re not allowed to give guarantees. But there are some attorneys that tell you what you want to hear. There’s a lot who’ll do that just to get your case. They don’t care; they want to get paid. Sometimes people want to hear what they want to hear. They don’t want to hear the truth.
Experience Is an Important Attribute
I will tell you the truth. I’ll tell you what a court’s going to do. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ll be 50 in a month. It’s misleading because I look young, but I have a great deal of experience. Also, I think experience and age counts for a lot. There’s a big difference, I think, being my age than being in your 20s. You have a different perspective on life.
Family Law Attorneys Help Individuals and Families
Interviewer: What keeps you motivated today to keep doing family law?
Wendy Doyle: I help people. I really do help people. Family law’s difficult. Not everybody can handle family law. I know attorneys said they wont do family law because of the emotions. It’s sad, but I know that I help people get what they’re entitled to.
It’s funny; you marry somebody. You think you are going to be fair to each other. You get divorced and sometimes fairness doesn’t factor into the equation. Sometimes it does, but sometimes one party can be greedy and selfish.