The Top 10 Things Your Typical Attorney Won't Tell You
Updated: Jan 7
We’re counting down our first top 10 list in 2020!
Smedley Law Group Founder Ali Smedley, Esq. dishes on lots of information your typical lawyer just won’t share.
1. Providing legal advice during your initial consultation isn’t really what you need.
You’ve come to consult with an attorney because you want to clarify the problems you’re facing. You also want to learn what you need to do to achieve your desired outcome. Let’s face it: If you knew what to do with actual legal advice from an attorney, you wouldn’t need to actually hire an attorney. During your consultation with us, we provide you with insight and clarity into the problems you’re facing. Our job as attorneys is to clearly show you how we can get you safely to the other side of your legal issue, keeping your priorities and goals at the forefront of what we do.
2. Your attorney knows the judge, your adversary or the court. That doesn’t make your attorney a better lawyer to represent you in your matter.
We always tell our clients that facts and legal arguments make a case, not who your attorney knows.
Just because your lawyer brags about his or her reputation or how well they know the court, that won’t carry the day if the facts aren’t in your favor.
Focus on choosing an attorney who can look beyond the face of your case and devise creative solutions to the problems you’re experiencing.
3. Vanity awards don’t guarantee that your attorney is superior to other lawyers.
Beware of vanity awards. You should know that companies solicit attorneys daily, awarding “Top 10” plaques and membership to mysterious societies.
For a fee, any lawyer receiving these solicitations can claim membership. These types of vanity awards aren’t indicative of an attorney’s experience or the results he or she can get for you.
While most attorneys participate in local Top Attorney selections, they’re run by reputable magazines that are transparent with the selection process, be it peer reviewed or by a fan vote.
Our advice? Be critical in choosing your attorney.
Remember, a list of a lot of awards doesn’t ensure that your attorney will be successful in achieving your desired outcome.
4. Attorneys all have the same education (shhhhh).
Every attorney has the same basic education. Plus, we’re all required by the state of New Jersey to maintain continuing legal education credits.
It’s not where your attorney earned their Juris Doctorate degree.
It’s how your attorney uses their education and law degree to represent clients that counts.
5. You can control a portion of what your case costs.
Want to know the number one way you can minimize your legal fees?
Be cognizant of the terms of your fee agreement and take steps to reduce the time your attorney and his or her staff needlessly spends on your matter.
Bottom line: You don’t want to pay your attorney to take staples out of your documents before we scan them. You also don’t want to pay us to put your bank statements in order.
Help yourself and save your fees for the heavy lifting we’ll undertake for your matter.
6. Your attorney is probably friendly with your ex’s attorney.
It’s true: Attorneys in any given practice area run in the same circles. Over the years, it’s just natural to develop personal and professional relationships with people you see on a continual basis.
Remember, just because your attorney may be on good terms with your ex’s attorney doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t going to be your advocate or go to bat for you as appropriate.
Attorneys need to work with opposing counsel throughout the years. They aren’t going to tank a professional relationship over one case.
Your takeaway: Good attorneys can separate their personal life from their professional one and be the advocate you need.
7. No one cares about your personal possessions as much as you do.
The TV you purchased for your living room? Those pots and pans in the kitchen? That Dyson vacuum you covet?
We’re about to burst your bubble. These items aren’t worth anything near what you paid.
By the time you pay your attorney to fight over these possessions, you could have bought these items new.
Save your legal fees for the most pressing elements of your matter, which will most impact your life going forward.
8. An unrealistic position can cost you thousands of dollars.
Divorce is an emotional wasteland. Every little thing will set you off.
We’ve seen clients fixate on a position and then decide to pursue that position to the ends of the earth, no matter what the cost.
You need to live with the outcome of your legal matter for years to come. That’s why taking an unrealistic position can add thousands to your legal fees.
A good attorney isn’t afraid to tell you when you may be taking an unreasonable position—that will also cost you dearly in attorneys’ fees and beyond.
One last thing: Sometimes taking legal action isn’t the best course. Maybe your child support agreement hasn’t been revisited in a number of years, and now you want to review that obligation. How would you feel if you took that issue to court only to find out that the facts of your case worked against you, resulting in a negative outcome?
We’d rather have you trust our advice, even if it goes against our own financial interest, than bring a matter to court that doesn’t have a good chance of success.
9. Sometimes it’s OK to quit.
Yes, there are times when the cost of pursuing a particular course of action isn’t worth the outcome, win or lose.
Good attorneys aren’t afraid to have the “let’s get real talk” with you to outline the cost/benefit analysis of a particular situation in an effort to minimize the emotional and financial impact of that decision.
10. Specializing in family law counts when you’re selecting an attorney.
Would you let your mechanic prepare your taxes? How about letting your dentist perform open-heart surgery on you? There are obvious reasons people pick an area of expertise in a profession and stick to it.
By specializing in family law, our attorneys constantly stay up to date on the case law that affects our practice—and your matter. Our continuing education is focused on constantly honing the skills we need to give you an outstanding experience.
Broad knowledge can be good. However, when you’re talking about you and your family’s future, you want an attorney whose sole focus is on family law.
If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Smedley Law Group can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.