Choosing a lawyer is a difficult decision, and unfortunately it is a decision that has real repercussions. All attorneys are not equal and choosing the right attorney for the right case can make a very great difference. The following is a list of criteria one should be using when choosing a lawyer:

1. How much experience? Generally speaking, lawyers with more experience are better than lawyers with less experience. Although new lawyers have a lot to bring to the table, including their ability to use technology, or just plain energy, understanding the how the law works comes from experience. When you make a mistake, and all lawyers do, you learn something. If you have never made a mistake, it’s probably because you have never been in a position to make one. However, don’t assume experience is enough.

2. What is his/her reputation? online reviews are not irrelevant. If people are saying bad stuff about this lawyer online, there is a good chance it’s just an unhappy customer. When you have more than one, you should take notice. You should also want to know what other lawyers think of your potential lawyer. Their opinions may matter.

3. How many practice areas? most attorneys practice in one or two practice areas. An attorney who practices in almost any area may not really know any one area that well. Be wary. It takes a lot of time to become a competent attorney. Family is a specialized area of law that other attorneys should not dabble in. There is too much that is different about it to be able to pick up on easily.

4. How do they present? You may believe that glass doors and shiny conference rooms are a sign that an attorney really knows their stuff, but that may be a mistake. You need to think about what they need to charge to keep that place going and think about the level of care you will receive. You will not be receiving phone calls on the weekend from that firm, or be able to text them, and chances are decent that they probably won’t remember what is going on with your case. If money is an issue for you, look for a law firm that emphasizes substance over form.

5. Do they really understand your case? Most attorneys see all cases as the same, and in many ways they are. However, it is the personalities at play in a case that make predictions possible about outcomes. Who your spouse is, and what they will do in the context of a divorce may be difficult to predict, but a good attorney looks wants to know more than what the court order says. If an attorney is telling you that your spouse will not be a problem, and you are telling them they will be, keep looking for a lawyer.