Goldsmiths’ Hall in London has been in continuous operation since 1327, providing proof of the quality of fine pieces wrought in gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Each goldsmith belonging to the Hall was to place on his wares a maker’s mark; a hallmark. From the very beginning, a hallmark indicated the highest quality goods, made to a high standard by a skilled craftsman. How, today, can you recognize the bests traits of Virginia’s best divorce and family law attorneys? You certainly cannot expect to see their makers’ marks emblazoned on court orders or petitions. What sets a Virginia family lawyer apart from others in the profession?
Knowledge of the Law
Virginia’s divorce and family laws are codified in the Code of Virginia. Yet they are also directed by case law, some federal statutes, and rulings by Virginia’s Supreme Court. A good divorce lawyer works with the Code every day, but keeping up with recent rulings takes constant study.
In addition to Virginia cases, knowledge of other states’ cases matters, too. For example, the Brandenburg Formula often used in Virginia divorces comes not from a Virginia case, but from Kentucky. Add to the mix military laws that may affect military divorce, and you have a need for attorneys constantly refreshing their skills and knowledge.
You have every right to interview your prospective attorney to ensure she or he has the necessary training and current knowledge to handle your case. Consider all the changes in case law brought by modern technology like cell phones, password-protected computers, and video surveillance. A lawyer who is still using rotary dial office phones may not be your best advocate in a modern-day divorce.
Soft Skills are Important, Too
Attorneys who must appear in court hone their people skills — soft skills — through years of trial experience. Knowing how to speak to witnesses, address the judge, and communicate compassionately yet forcefully is a talent. Some of these abilities can be learned, but your lawyer needs to have a natural disposition for communicating with people:
- Can your attorney “read” a witness’s reactions on the stand?
- Will your lawyer change speaking style and vocabulary when interviewing children?
- Does your attorney know how to use the specialized jargon of psychologists, private detectives, and forensic witnesses?
In addition to court demeanor, an attorney also has to handle the emotions of private conferences in which two people who once loved each other are struggling to separate and move on with their lives. This calls for all the skills of a marriage counselor combined with a zealous advocate protecting your rights. Can your attorney mediate, soothe, and suggest solutions, or does she or he simply make matters worse?
Does Your Family Law Attorney Think Outside the Box?
Building codes do not force architects to create cookie-cutter houses. State curricula do not make teachers teach the same lessons for every grade. Virginia’s Code does not compel attorneys to make the same offers in every divorce. A good family law attorney has creativity, a willingness to try new approaches in property settlements, a special way of looking at complex situations.
Look for a family law attorney who is creative in problem solving. The path through divorce is months long, and every divorce presents unique challenges. A lawyer who simply applies the same formula every time will not have much to offer if your divorce needs a creative spark. Creativity means finding new and helpful ways to schedule parenting time, like Facetiming with a Dad stationed overseas, or birdnesting. Creativity means forging property settlement agreements that make both sides happy.
Unflappable … Does Your Attorney Crack Under Pressure?
A family law attorney has to work under pressure from many sides. You, the client, may be asking for miracles. Your wife, your legal adversary, may be unreasonable. The judge expects punctuality. And the paperwork — O! The paperwork!
Though the stereotype of new lawyers is of 80-hour weeks and mind-numbing readings, the reality is not too far off of that for dedicated, hard-working attorneys toiling in Virginia’s circuit courts. Look for an attorney who is busy, yes, but not so busy as to be burned out. Look for an attorney who performs well under pressure. Nobody needs theatrics in or out of the courtroom; your attorney should be able to handle surprises and unexpected answers in depositions, conferences, and in court.
Your Attorney Must Be a Solid Communicator
An eloquent attorney is one with good communication skills. She or he speaks well, writes succinctly, and chooses words to have lasting impact.
Eloquence is, of course, half of communicating; listening is the other half. An attorney who fails to listen to you, the client, in pursuit of her or his own goals is doing you a disservice. An attorney who fails to listen to testimony, interviews or depositions attentively may miss an important detail.
Expect your attorney to be a good communicator. You have every right to ask questions of your attorney to know the strategy used for your case, and to have that strategy explained in clear, understandable terms. Beware the attorney who hides behind jargon, Latin or legal shorthand.
Why call 757-383-9184 to reach The Firm For Men? Because you can speak with a real Virginia family law attorney. You can be heard, you can have your rights as a Virginia man upheld and defended. You can tap into some of the most talented, dedicated attorneys practicing law in the Commonwealth.