Choosing a Lawyer II

John J. Nazarian
April 9, 2008

Sole PractionerThis recent comment from “Jenny” under “Choosing a Lawyer” deserves it’s own post:

Hi John, I recently stumbled upon your web site. I am entertaining the thought of engaging a divorce attorney. We are not rich or famous. How much does one of these high powered attorneys typically cost for a typical divorce? My friend is into hers for over 800K between the two of them. I certainly do not have even close to that kind of money. Can I expect to pay around 80K or less?

Thanks for “stumbling” and I was glad to get this! I am not sure where you are, but that has little to do with the initial process. You do not need a fancy firm with a fancy address (and fancy fees). There are some fine sole practioners out there. With the budget you are working with, you will need to be the “captain of the ship.” Make sure you are real clear with whoever it is you are going to deal with that this is it. Better yet, tell them all you have is $35,000 — better not to tip your hand! You won’t get a big firm, and that may be a good thing. Also keep in mind that the soon to be Mr. Ex could be held responsible for your cost. And be sure that you, too, pay attention to what the lawyer you choose is doing and how the
time is being spent! I have found when you try and be reasonable this will go a lot easier — be prepared to make concessions as to who gets what and why. Don’t let spite and ego cause you to spend $1000 to fight over an $80 lamp.

Visiting the courthouse is not a bad idea to watch the process and see what and how it is done. It will be a good lesson and you might find a lawyer that you like there. But don’t go just on reputation in your choice, you have to be careful and always pay attention to what’s going on if you plan on getting through this relatively unscathed. It is a difficult time but don’t go on autopilot once you have a lawyer…at the end of the day, you still have to be your own best advocate. You will get battered but you have to be careful and focus on what matters. If you and the soon to be Mr. Ex are not reasonable, the only people who will win will be people like me and the lawyers. And again, play your cards close to your chest and
don’t ever tell your lawyer how much you really have in the “vault” — you are on a budget and you need to focus on that!

I wish you all the best,


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