HIRING AN ATTORNEY
may be one of the most important decisions you will ever have to
make.  This decision can affect your property, money, and even the
future of your children.  You must be able to develop a comfortable
relationship with the attorney handling your divorce as you will be
discussing personal and sometimes sensitive issues.  

characteristics to consider when hiring a divorce attorney:

  • The lawyer should be sensitive and objective

  • Straightforward about billing and costs

  • Clearly explain what legal terms mean and what the legal
    procedures are about

  • Answer questions without making the client feel uncomfortable

  • The lawyer should not promise any particular results

  • He or she should avoid unnecessary adversity while working
    hard to protect your rights and best interests

  • The lawyer communicates with the client about the progression
    of the case

  • Knowledge about the divorce laws of Illinois and how the laws
    are applied in the county in which your divorce will be handled

  • He or she should minimize your costs by encouraging
    mediation, discussion(s) between the spouses, settlement
    conferences, etc.

CAUTION IN SEEKING A DIVORCE ATTORNEY.  Keep in mind that
the cost of an attorney is not indicative of the quality of results.  
Simply hiring the most expensive attorney does not guarantee you
will have the upper hand in the divorce.  

Be very cautious if the attorney:
  • guarantees results
  • promises a quick result for a low fee
  • gives information that sounds odd or wrong

RECOMMENDATION.  Someone who has been through a divorce is
an excellent source for recommending an attorney.  However, you
must also make an independent choice if this is the attorney for you.  
You must feel comfortable discussing the intimate details of your lief
and marriage with the attorney.  

     ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP
A good attorney-client relationship is a team effort where concerns
can be openly and freely discussed, options weighed, and a course
of action determined together.  The attorney should listen to the
concerns of the client and give feedback.  The client should heed the
advice given by the attorney as it is the attorney's responsibility to
protect the client's interests.

The attorney should be sympathetic and compassionate as a divorce
can cause a tremendous amount of stress for the client.  The client
should receive guidance and feedback, but not expect an attorney to
take the place of a counselor.

    BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP  
One of the most important topics to discuss with a potential divorce
attorney is
cost.  Every law firm has its own policies and procedures
pertaining to payment of its fees.  Many people seeking legal counsel
forget that a law firm is a business and the attorney must receive
payment for the services rendered.  When an attorney is hired, an
attorney-client relationship is formed that is, among other things, a
business relationship.  This portion of the relationship needs to be
clearly defined at the onset to avoid confusion later.  Attorneys
should have clients sign a written agreement/contract.  If any
questions arise during the representation, the attorney and/or can
review the contract.  

WRITTEN AGREEMENT/CONTRACT.  Prior to hiring any attorney,
thoroughly discuss the
fees of the attorney.  Attorneys should have
the client sign a contract detailing the retainer/flate fee associated
with representation; if paying by the hour the hourly rate of the
attorney needs to be included; the billing practices of the attorney;
the responsibilities of the client during the representation; the costs
for which the client is responsible such as filing fee, service fees,
copy costs, etc.; and the scope of the attorney's representation.  If
you have any questions about the fee agreement ask the attorney.  
The attorney should explain what is expected of the client once the
retainer is depleted.  Some attorneys will require additional retainers
to be posted upon depletion of the initial retainer.  Other attorneys
allow client to make payments if made on a regular basis.  Prior to
hiring an attorney, inquire as to what is expected once the retainer is
depleted.

INITIAL CONSULTATIONS.  This is the first time a person speaks
with an attorney about using the services of the attorney.  Some
attorneys charge a fee for the initial consultation while others do not.  
Attorney
Angela Lund-Logan offers a FREE initial consultation over
the phone or through email.

     ENDING THE RELATIONSHIP
Either the attorney or the client can end the attorney-client
relationship.  

ATTORNEY.  The attorney-client contract states the duties of the
client during the relationship.  If the client fails to perform these
duties, the attorney may terminate the relationship.

CLIENT.  If a client is not satisfied with service received from the
attorney, the client should discuss such concerns with the attorney in
an attempt to resolve the problems.  If the client's concerns cannot
be worked out or are not addressed by the attorney, the client should
not hesitate to seek representation by another attorney.  It is not
uncommon to have more than one attorney handle your divorce.  As
the client, you must find effective representation for your family law
case.  

INFORMAL PROCESS.  If the attorney has not appeared in court for
your case or filed an "Appearance," the attorney does not need to
file paperwork in the case.  The attorney and/or the client should put
into writing that the relationship has ended.

FORMAL PROCESS.  If the attorney has filed an "Appearance" in
the case, the attorney must file paperwork in the case asking to be
removed as the client's attorney and end the attorney-client
relationship.  The relationship is formally ended when an order
removing the attorney is signed by the judge.  The attorney-client
contract states whether the client will be charged for the attorney to
end the relationship.

FEES OWED.  If the attorney is owed fees at the time the attorney
withdraws from representing the client, by request of the attorney or
the client, the attorney can request a judgment against the client for
the outstanding fees.

FUNDS REMAINING IN RETAINER.  If the attorney has not earned
all of the funds in the retainer, the funds must be returned to the
client.  The attorney continues to earn fees until the attorney-client
relationship is terminated.  The attorney-client contract will state
whether the attorney is paid for all actions taken to end the attorney-
client relationship.  
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