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7 Must-Know Tips for Hiring an Attorney for Your Case

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

When you find yourself faced with a legal issue, the steps you take next can literally impact the rest of your life. Hiring a legal professional – and doing it the right way – is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

Not sure how to hire an attorney for your case? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for ten must-know tips that will make hiring an attorney easy.

1. Ask for Recommendations

One of the best ways to find a good attorney is to ask people you trust for recommendations. Start with family and friends – ask if they’ve had a positive personal experience with an attorney in the area of specialty you’re looking for.

If you have a relationship with an attorney who works in a different specialty, he or she may also be able to give you a recommendation. For example, your business lawyer probably can’t help with a personal injury case, but he may be able to refer you to a great personal injury lawyer.

Use these recommendations to create a short list of three to five attorneys who you’ll investigate further before making a decision.

2. Do Online Research

Next, it’s time to hop online and start doing some research about each of the attorneys on your list. Check Google reviews and at least a couple of the lawyer review sites – like and Justia.

It’s also a good idea to take a look through the lawyer’s website and their social media – including the reviews section. Remember that you can’t please everyone, so don’t put too much weight into one or two bad reviews, but if you start to see a pattern, consider crossing that lawyer off your list.

3. Schedule a Consultation

Once your research is done, narrow down your list to the top three, then call to schedule consultations. Most attorneys will meet with you for at least a brief consultation without charging you.

Pay attention to whether the person who answers the phone is polite and accommodating. When you arrive at the office, notice whether the location is convenient and whether you feel comfortable in the space.

4. Ask the Right Questions

When you sit down with the lawyer, it’s a good idea to have a list of questions prepared. This will ensure that you make good use of the time you have and that you don’t forget anything important.

Some of the questions you’ll want to ask include:

  • Do you specialize in cases like mine?
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • Do you feel that I have a strong case?
  • How much do you think my case is worth?
  • How often do you take cases to court vs. setting?
  • Who will be handling my case?
  • How and when will I need to pay?

Look for an attorney who is honest and upfront when answering your questions. Don’t be afraid to take notes, as you’ll want to compare the interviews with each of your top three options and remembering who said what could become a challenge.

5. Assess fees and Costs

You never want to hire an attorney based on cost alone, but, of course, price does matter. Ask the attorney to thoroughly explain their fees, and, if possible, to provide you with a written summary. Don’t feel like you’re “being cheap,” you deserve to know what you’re paying for and how much it’s going to cost you.

6. Review the Payment Arrangements

There are different ways that your attorney might bill you. Options include:

  • Contingency fee – the attorney receives a percentage of what you’re awarded if you win your case.
  • Flat fee – a set dollar amount for services. This is common for simple things like writing a will or filing a non-contested divorce.
  • Hourly rate – this is a set fee per hour. The final cost will depend on the number of hours worked.
  • Retainer – this is a fee you pay upfront. Lawyers often use this to pay expenses and fees associated with trying your case.

It’s important to understand how your attorney bills so you know when and how much you can expect to pay. If you don’t ask these questions, you could end up with an unpleasant surprise.

7. Listen to Your Gut

Once you’ve reviewed all of this information and met with each potential attorney, it’s time to evaluate your experience with each and make a final decision. You’ll use logic for most of this evaluation, but it’s also important to listen to your gut. If you have a really great feeling about one attorney that you met with – if you feel like you trust and believe in him or her – then this is a great indication that you’ve made the right choice.

The same goes for a negative feeling. Even if you can’ quite put your finger on it, if there’s something that just doesn’t seem quite right to you, then move on. There are thousands of lawyers out there, so it makes sense to keep looking until you find one that’s a good fit for you.

Hiring an Attorney is a Critical Decision

Follow these tips for hiring an attorney and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve made an excellent choice. If you need even more information, take a few minutes to scroll through some of our other helpful blog posts!

5 Qualities of a Professional Criminal Defense Lawyer

Monday, May 16th, 2022
Criminal Defense Lawyers criminal lawyers

Every human being has the right to go through and get the chance of a fair trial and pleading in the justice. That is the reason why everyone is given a chance to prove themself right in the court of justice. Criminal defense lawyers work for the rights of people who have committed all sorts of crimes.

A criminal defense lawyer will only be able to plead for the right of their client if they have the appropriate skills required for the matter.

Every human being has the right to go through and get the chance of a fair trial and pleading in the justice. That is the reason why everyone is given a chance to prove themself right in the court of justice. Criminal defense lawyers work for the rights of people who have committed all sorts of crimes.

A criminal defense lawyer will only be able to plead for the right of their client if they have the appropriate skills required for the matter.

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Let us take a look at the five best qualities that you should look for in a criminal defense lawyer.

1. Research about Criminal Justice:

Possessing extensive knowledge about the course of criminal justice is quintessential to win a case. All this conversance does not come from just books. It is the experience that matters. A qualified criminal defense lawyer must have phenomenal research skills.

It is significant to note that they must have done long-term research work to deeply understand and get the know-how of their particular subject.

2. Communication abilities:

An exceptional criminal defense lawyer is the one who is not only a good speaker but also a fabulous listener! Their competency can be judged by the way they communicate with their clients and others.

A great criminal defense lawyer never tries to confuse their client and is always straight forward with them. Exceptional conversation abilities are needed to persuade the judges and people attached to a particular case.

Communication is always the key when you are trying to make someone speak in your favor. Being a criminal defense lawyer is similar to visiting a shop and negotiating with the shopkeeper for the price you want. However, this cannot be achieved without possessing astounding bargaining skills.

3. Confidentiality and Uprightness:

A criminal justice lawyer can never be victorious in his vocation without possessing the above-mentioned attributes. If a criminal lawyer is not true to his words, then he will not be able to obtain a contentious advantage by gaining the confidence of their client.

Another quality of a great criminal defense lawyer is that they always respect the privacy of their clients. They never discuss the things with outsiders. This is the primary quality to look for when hiring you a criminal defense lawyer.

4. The order of the courtroom:

A renowned feature of a skilled criminal defense lawyer is that he is eternally courteous towards the mandate of the courtroom. He understands the apt occasion to exhibit aggressiveness, and knows when to remain silent.

He is not overwhelmed by his fellow lawyers and judges, articulates in a firm tone always. Those who have knowledge regarding their field are not afraid to face any sort of challenge.

5. Finding out the loop holes:

The essential feature that every great criminal defense lawyer must have is that they should be capable enough to catch all the loop holes from the data, that they collect from the police. They also possess exceptional logical skills.

Getting an Attorney to Handle Your Criminal Case

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Within the complex criminal justice system, a defense attorney serves as the defendant’s guide, protector, and confidant. (At least that’s how it’s supposed to be.) Defense attorneys are usually grouped in two camps: court-appointed attorneys paid by the government and private attorneys paid by the defendant.

Some criminal defendants can afford to hire a private criminal defense attorney. For those who cannot afford an attorney (approximately eighty percent of all criminal defendants), the court may appoint counsel to represent the defendant (assuming certain qualifications are met). These court-appointed attorneys are either public defenders who are on government salary, or they are so-called “panel attorneys,” local attorneys chosen from a panel. A small fraction of criminal defendants (approximately two percent) represent themselves and are referred to as “pro se” or “pro per” defendants.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

Criminal defense attorneys (private and court-appointed) research the facts, investigate the case against their clients, and try to negotiate deals with their adversaries (prosecutors). These deals might include reduced bail, reduced charges, and reduced sentences. Because of a number of factors—political and public pressure, overcrowded jails, overloaded court calendars—deal-making has grown in importance and has become an essential element in unclogging the criminal justice system.

Criminal defense attorneys also examine witnesses, help formulate a plea, analyze the prosecutor’s case, assess the potential sentences (and the likelihood of a particular judge awarding such a sentence), review search and seizure procedures, question witnesses, and gather evidence. Defense counsel can also advise on potential immigration consequences or other consequences of a plea, conviction, or criminal record.

Defense counsel also provide more personal services by giving the defendant a reality check as to the possible outcomes and by helping the defendant to deal with the frustrations and fears resulting from being thrown into the criminal justice system. And of course, if no plea deal can be made, the defense lawyer represents the defendant at trial.

Cost of Legal Representation

A huge factor when it comes to legal representation is the defendant’s financial status and whether the defendant can afford private counsel.

Private criminal defense attorneys charge either on an hourly basis (expect to pay $150 an hour or higher) or by a fixed or set fee. They are prohibited from charging contingency fees, which are payments that depend on the outcome of the case. If the defendant is indigent (cannot afford private counsel), the court may appoint a government-paid public defender or panel attorney.

Some—but not many—folks have enough money so that paying for a lawyer isn’t a financial strain. But arranging for legal representation often isn’t as straightforward for those who fall in between these groups of people.

The bottom line for judges is that the right to free (government-paid) defense counsel generally kicks in whenever an indigent defendant faces a jail or prison sentence. If there is no possibility of incarceration—for example, a judge states on the record that she will not sentence the defendant to jail time—then the defendant might not be entitled to free counsel (depending on state law).

Note that the right to free representation does not mean a right to the lawyer of choice. A defendant who’s been appointed counsel normally doesn’t get to pick and choose in the way that a paying defendant does.

Is a Private Attorney Better Than a Court-Appointed Attorney?

Defendants sometimes believe that private attorneys possess a distinct advantage over the overworked public defender’s office or panel attorneys who are paid a minimum fee. But do private attorneys provide better representation than court-appointed government-paid defense counsel?

Many private attorneys are former prosecutors or public defenders. Based on studies that evaluate the outcomes of having a private versus court-appointed attorney, data seems to indicate that the results for defendants are often the same. For example, one study indicated that defendants represented by private counsel and public defenders fared similarly in conviction rates and sentencing (although those represented by panel attorneys fared worse). Such statistical evidence is not always reliable or clear because of complicating factors. For instance, clients represented by private counsel often have short or no prior criminal records, while indigent defendants are twice as likely to be repeat offenders. What is also unclear—and what creates one of the biggest uncertainties of the criminal justice system—is whether private attorneys can negotiate better plea deals than court-appointed counsel.

Ultimately, the experience, skills, and commitment of the particular attorney at hand—regardless of whether he or she is a public defender, panel attorney, or private lawyer—are the best indicator of the quality of the representation.

Self-Representation (Pro se)

What is clear is that being represented by a lawyer is almost always the best option. Nevertheless, some criminal defendants represent themselves. The decision of whether a defendant can self-represent is ultimately made by the judge, not the defendant. The judge is required to determine the defendant’s competency. That’s because a defendant who cannot provide a competent defense cannot get a fair shake, even if the defendant is adamant about not accepting the services of a court-appointed attorney. When determining whether a defendant can go pro se, a judge will consider factors such as:

  • the seriousness of the crime
  • the defendant’s language skills and education
  • whether the defendant understands the nature of the proceedings, and
  • whether the defendant is knowingly giving up his right to counsel.

Finding an Attorney

When looking for a private defense attorney, look for an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and practices in the jurisdiction (city or county) where charges are pending. A local attorney will be familiar with the judges and prosecutors in that area. Learn more in our article on what to look for in a private criminal defense attorney. You can also find more information on our home page,

If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for an attorney, you will typically need to ask for court-appointed counsel (before or at one of your first court hearings) and fill our paperwork on your financial resources. Learn more in our article on public defender representation.

5 Reasons To Hire A Divorce Lawyer

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Here are 5 great reasons to hire a family law attorney to help you.

Reason #1 – Divorce is serious business A divorce is effectively a lawsuit between you and your spouse for the right to see your children and the right to divide everything that you own. For most people, that is life. What else is more important than your children, and the right to possess your property and handle your finances? All too often people take the divorce process lightly. They discover, after judgment, that the settlement did not turn out fairly. It is very difficult to get back into court to make changes to the divorce judgment. Many of the provisions, by law, cannot be changed at all. A divorce attorney specializing in divorce law and all its aspects. A divorce attorney can give you critical advice that is necessary for your present and future right to your children and finances. My client’s often tell me that my advice and counsel helped tremendously.

Reason #2 – You cannot trust your estranged spouse, but you can trust your attorney An attorney has a fiduciary duty to represent you. That means our loyalty is to you and no one else – not your spouse, not the courts, not the opposing attorney. Our job is to give you relevant and helpful guidance and advice. We will tell you if the options on the table concerning child custody, physical placement, maintenance, child support and property division are fair and equitable. When spouses split up and start the divorce process their loyalties to each other fade. As loyalty fades, self-interest takes over. You can bet that your estranged spouse is thinking about what is best for him or her and not what is best for you. Our job is to make sure we are thinking about what is best for you.

Reason #3 – Attorneys can find financial information that your estranged spouse is hiding Most people ask their spouse about finances and they accept the answer received as if it is truth. In fact, many times, spouses hide financial information from each other. An attorney’s job is to help you discover as much as possible about the marital estate. This includes all information pertaining to the assets, debts, liabilities, and expenses of both spouses. For example, many clients will tell me that their spouse told them that they do not have a pension. While pensions may be a thing of the past, we routinely discover that a spouse has an interest in a pension. We discover that by digging deeper than a client would do and most other attorneys. Our point is not to brag, but simply to state that we will search out the truth and not be satisfied until we have looked under every stone.

Reason #4 – Attorneys know how to present relevant evidence Many clients hire me after they tried to explain their case and were denied the ability to do so. This is mostly because people believe they can come to a courtroom and simply explain their position. No way. Rules of evidence apply no matter if you are represented by an attorney or not. We prepare your claim by listening to your story. We gather documentary evidence and we talk to witnesses. We will present your case following the rules of evidence, making sure that all relevant information about your children and finances is presented to the court so that a fair and equitable decision can be made.
Reason #5 – Divorce attorneys understand the emotional strain of divorce Friends and family are great resources during the divorce process, but they do not understand the legal aspects of marriage and divorce. While well meaning, family and friends can give advice that negatively impacts your divorce. Sometimes friends and family are dealing with loss from the divorce just as you are, and as a result, they may not give sound advice. Divorce attorneys are really good listeners. We react to your needs and wishes. Because we handle so many divorces, we can identify when our clients are making sound judgments and when they are clouded by emotion. Our job is to bring you back to center to make sure you are making decisions grounded in fact and law and not just one of the two. Washoe Legal Service

HReason #4 – Attorneys know how to present relevant evidence Many clients hire me after they tried to explain their case and were denied the ability to do so. This is mostly because people believe they can come to a courtroom and simply explain their position. No way. Rules of evidence apply no matter if you are represented by an attorney or not. We prepare your claim by listening to your story. We gather documentary evidence and we talk to witnesses. We will present your case following the rules of evidence, making sure that all relevant information about your children and finances is presented to the court so that a fair and equitable decision can be made.
Reason #5 – Divorce attorneys understand the emotional strain of divorce Friends and family are great resources during the divorce process, but they do not understand the legal aspects of marriage and divorce. While well meaning, family and friends can give advice that negatively impacts your divorce. Sometimes friends and family are dealing with loss from the divorce just as you are, and as a result, they may not give sound advice. Divorce attorneys are really good listeners. We react to your needs and wishes. Because we handle so many divorces, we can identify when our clients are making sound judgments and when they are clouded by emotion. Our job is to bring you back to center to make sure you are making decisions grounded in fact and law and not just one of the two. 

Washoe Legal Service can help you with your divorce.

Hire a Divorce Lawyer

Friday, March 11th, 2022

If you’re thinking about a divorce, you may want to seek the legal advice of a divorce lawyer. A good divorce attorney can help educate you on the divorce laws in your state and help minimize the lengthy court process and emotional stress often associated with divorce proceedings. Divorce can be even more stressful when deciding on child custody or if the former spouses can’t agree on anything. It may be in your best interests to hire a divorce lawyer.

Why You May Need a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is a complicated process. Not only does it impact you emotionally and financially but it may also impact your children, family, and friends. If you’re thinking about filing for a divorce, or if your spouse has initiated divorce proceedings, you may need an experienced divorce lawyer to help you navigate this difficult time while protecting your assets and legal rights.

An experienced divorce attorney will evaluate your specific case and advise you at every stage of the divorce process, all with the goal of ensuring that the outcome of your divorce is as favorable as possible to you and your family.

Hiring a good divorce attorney with experience, objectivity, and specialized knowledge to represent you during the divorce proceedings is a good idea. While some divorces may be handled on your own, other more complicated divorces warrant the legal advice of a qualified divorce attorney or someone who knows the intricacies of the divorce process. You may have questions concerning your eligibility for divorce, where to file, divorce fees/costs, and setting up a parenting plan if you have kids, for instance.

Moreover, because divorce often includes matters involving kids and finances, you may need a divorce lawyer with specialized experience in child custodychild support, and visitation issues as well.

What to Look For When You Hire a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce lawyers handle a variety of divorce issues, including settlement agreements, child custody/child visitation, division of property and finances, and spousal support. When looking for a divorce lawyer, you should concentrate on the lawyer’s expertise, skill level, commitment, and location or area served.

Because divorce proceedings require divulging many aspects of your personal life and financial assets, you should feel comfortable speaking freely in your lawyer’s presence and feel confident in the lawyer’s ability to handle your case. Your divorce lawyer should also have experience handling child support cases (if kids are involved) and/or division of property issues (if applicable).

It is also important to know the attorney’s style and divorce philosophy, such as whether combative or cooperative, and whether the attorney offers divorce alternatives, such as mediation or other out-of-court proceedings. Not all divorces have to end in an ugly court battle, and an attorney’s philosophy may make a difference in the long-term outcome of your relationship with your ex-spouse.

Lastly, because state laws vary, it’s important that the attorney have experience handling divorces in the state of your marriage.

Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer

Before you hire a divorce lawyer, you should feel comfortable enough to speak with them concerning all aspects of your family’s situation. Below are some of the questions you should ask before hiring a divorce attorney:

  • What’s involved in the divorce process and how long does it typically last?
  • What percentage of your practice is devoted to divorce cases? How many divorce cases have you tried?
  • What is your experience handling child custody/visitation cases and/or working with high net worth individuals?
  • How much of my divorce case will you actually handle?
  • What is your philosophy on divorce? Do you offer mediation or other alternative out-of-court dispute resolution?
  • Can you give me an estimate of how much my divorce will cost?

Divorce Attorney Fees

The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer will vary and depends on a number of factors.

Not all divorce attorneys are the same, and a good divorce attorney may cost more than an average divorce lawyer. Second, not all divorce cases are the same. Some cases may be resolved with minimum paperwork and in a short period of time, while others will involve repeated court appearances, endless court filings, and repeated negotiations. Additionally, divorce attorney fees can vary by location, so a Los Angeles divorce attorney may cost more than a divorce attorney in rural Tennessee.

In all cases, it is wise to consult with a variety of divorce attorneys in your area to find one you feel comfortable with in representing you and get a sense of the cost involved in representing your case.

Get Professional Help: Hire a Divorce Attorney

Divorce is never an easy decision to make, but sometimes it’s necessary. There’s a lot to do in order to get a divorce, and various procedural rules to follow. For this reason, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced divorce attorney who will be familiar with the divorce process and can advocate on your behalf, both in and out of the courtroom.

What is Family Law?

Friday, February 18th, 2022

By FindLaw Staff | Reviewed by Hal Armstrong, Esq | Last updated December 15, 2021

Family law is a legal practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships such as marriage, adoption, divorce, and child custody, among others. Attorneys practicing family law can represent clients in family court proceedings or in related negotiations. They can also draft important legal documents such as court petitions or property agreements.

Some family law attorneys even specialize in adoption, paternity, emancipation, or other matters not usually related to divorce. The matter of family encompasses so many life aspects. Lawyers in the field, therefore, help all kinds of people facing all kinds of sensitive issues that many people wouldn’t immediately assume go under the family law umbrella.

The following is a primer on family law and what it entails.

Helpful Terms to Know

  • Emancipation: A court process through which a minor becomes self-supporting, assumes adult responsibility for their personal welfare, and is no longer under the care of their parents.
  • Marital Property: Property acquired by either spouse during the course of a marriage that is subject to division upon divorce.
  • Alimony: An allowance made to one spouse by the other for support during or after a legal separation or divorce.
  • Paternity: Origin or descent from a father (to establish paternity is to confirm the identity of a child’s biological father).
  • Prenuptial Agreement: An agreement made between a man and a woman before marrying in which they give up future rights to each other’s property in the event of a divorce or death.

Reasons to Hire a Family Law Attorney

Most family lawyers represent clients in divorce proceedings and other matters related to divorce. But family law is a relatively broad practice area, including such issues as foster care and reproductive rights. Since family law matters hit so close to home, having a trusted legal professional by your side can help you ensure your loved ones are properly represented and protected during any legal process.

The most common reasons to hire a family law attorney include:

  • Divorce: Each partner hires their own attorney, who will help devise a settlement plan in order to avoid a trial. Divorce attorneys typically are skilled at dividing marital property, calculating spousal support, and proposing a plan for child custody, visitation, and support (if applicable).
  • Child Custody / Child Support: Court orders and settlement agreements involving both custody and support usually are included in the larger divorce case, but may be revisited as conditions change. For instance, child support may be altered after the non-custodial parent’s financial situation changes.
  • Paternity: In most cases, paternity cases are filed by the mother in an effort to secure child support payments from an absent father. But sometimes biological fathers file for paternity in order to have a relationship with their child. Paternity typically is determined through DNA testing.
  • Adoption / Foster Care: Adoption is a complex process that differs according to the type of adoption, where the child is from, variances in state laws, and other factors. Therefore, it’s important to consult with a family law attorney. Foster parents sometimes adopt their foster children, but the foster process does not necessarily require legal representation.

Family law often intersects with a wide range of other legal practice areas. For example, instances of domestic violence and child abuse typically involve criminal investigations (and may result in arrests and charges). Along with that process, family courts are tasked with determining how to best protect the victims and ensure a relatively safe environment for those involved. Other related legal practice areas include the following:

Marriage and Divorce Laws Vary by State

States have the right to determine “reasonable formal requirements” for marriage, including age and legal capacity, as well as the rules and procedures for divorce and other family law matters.

The timeframe of the divorce process, for example, depends on location. Some states have divorce laws that require a waiting period. Same-sex marriage has historically been a state matter. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, some states restricted marriage (and divorce) to opposite-sex couples only.

Need Help With a Family Law Matter? Talk to a Professional

Whether you’re in the process of a divorce, need help with an adoption, or have questions about enforcing a child support order, it’s often in your best interests to work with an attorney. Get the help you need by contacting an experienced family law attorney near you.

10 tips to improve your home on a tight budget

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

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It is a long-established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem Ipsum will uncover many websites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humor and the like)

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Different types of lawyers for the most common legal problems

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Lawyers are like horses; there are many breeds available, each with its own strengths. But are you riding, racing, or roping at the rodeo? As with horses, each legal specialty fills a specific need. There are 814,000 lawyers in the United States – what exactly do they all do? Here are some ideas on how to select the type of lawyer you need for the most common legal issues. 

Civil Litigation

Lawyers who routinely go to court on behalf of clients are litigators, and many specialize in areas such as personal injury, corporate, tax, etc. The general term “civil litigator” refers to an attorney who represents clients in civil (not criminal) court, either as plaintiff or defendant. The most common kinds of civil litigation involve contract disputes (ie alimony, injury, debt)class action lawsuits (ie discrimination)property disputes, and complaints filed against a government body. This article explains how to know if you need a civil litigation attorney. Civil litigation software helps attorneys stay organized and manage their cases and clients in one place.

Different types of lawyers for the most common legal problems - Smokeball

Real Estate

Real estate attorneys handle purchase agreements, mortgages, title documents, and transfer documents. They represent individual buyers and sellers, developers, landlords, and tenants. Simply put, the most common scenario to use a real estate attorney is when you buy or sell real estate. Cloud-based real estate law software assists attorneys by facilitating collaborative document management and project tracking in a seamless and secure environment. 

Criminal Law

Criminal lawyers are attorneys who defend individuals and organizations against government charges in federal and state courts. Criminal lawyers understand the rules around arrest, arraignment, bail, pleas, proof, and related issues. Some of the most common crimes requiring criminal lawyers include homicidesexual battery and assault. Criminal law software helps criminal attorneys manage their businesses. 

Personal Injury

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another person or company, you will want to engage a personal injury lawyer. Even though personal injury attorneys usually work on a contingent fee basis (i.e., no monthly bills to prepare and send), you will find that many are using personal injury case management software to help them better manage their cases, control costs, and increase overall returns. The most common personal injury claims are from car accidents and slip and fall accidents.

Medical Malpractice

If you’ve been hurt by a medical professional, a personal injury lawyer specializing in medical malpractice can help you seek compensation for the harm done. The most common medical malpractice cases include misdiagnosisinaccurate treatment, and medical negligence. Unpaid medical bills can lead to a medical lien being placed on the victim, which is another very common reason to hire a medical malpractice attorney.

Employment Law

Both employees and employers seek out employment lawyers to deal with legal issues related to the workplace.  Some of the most common types of cases handled by employment lawyers are contractswrongful terminationworkplace harassmentretaliation, and workplace discrimination

Workers’ Compensation

A mix of employment law and personal injury law, if you’ve been injured on the job, you will be working with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation lawyers specialize in helping workers navigate the unique laws that apply to people who have been injured on the job. A workers’ compensation lawyer typically has a large number of cases to manage, each with its own deadlines, so look for a firm using a modern cloud-based law firm management system. The Department of Labor administers four major disability compensation programs.

Family Law

A family practice lawyer deals with legal issues related to all types of family situations. Be it a prenuptial agreement, adoption, or divorce, if you are involved in a family law matter, don’t be surprised to find your attorney using Smokeball family lawyer software to help them generate accurate pleadings and documents, and communicate effectively with clients.


Immigration lawyers help immigrants, and employers seeking to hire them, with legal issues related to the status of immigrants and their families. Immigration lawyers help with visas, green cards, citizenship, and asylum and refugee status. Immigration laws change constantly, so it’s important to consult an experienced attorney in these situations. Case management software for immigration lawyers tracks the dates and deadlines for each of their many files and keeps all of their contacts in one place. 

Estate Planning

If you need a will, advanced medical directives, or thoughtful planning about how your assets will be handled when you pass away, you will be working with an estate planning lawyer. Estate planning includes tax aspects for wealthier individuals but is mainly driven by state law, so be sure to look for a firm that is local. Estate planning lawyers are in demand now, so plan ahead if you are able. 

Intellectual Property 

Intellectual property attorneys (“IP attorneys”) help companies, artists, and inventors with legal issues concerning copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and the like.  IP attorneys spend a lot of time working with clients to help them avoid infringing upon the rights of others and making sure that their intellectual property is properly protected under the law.  

Corporate Law

Corporate lawyers handle business entity formationgovernance, and compliance issues. Corporate lawyers also review contracts and give advice related to mergersacquisitionsdivestituresfinancing, and securities laws.


If you owe taxes or if you’re being sued by the Internal Revenue Service or a state or local tax agency, a tax lawyer will help you resolve the issues.  Future tax planning, tax fraud, tax evasion, and failure to file tax returns are all issues that an experienced tax attorney can tackle.

Conflict Management Strategies for Law Enforcement Leaders

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022
USD LEPSL Conflict Management Strategies for Law Enforcement Leaders

Given the challenging and often highly charged nature of law enforcement, the need for police executives to manage conflict — be it internal or external — is an inevitable part of the job.

However, specialized training in police conflict management and other core skills sets essential to law enforcement leadership are not necessarily prioritized. And while natural instincts and on-the-job experience are invaluable, a deeper understanding of the principles of conflict management and resolution will be extremely helpful if you work in a command position.

A simple Google search will turn up plenty of helpful advice targeted to law enforcement officers working on the front lines, but far less information is geared specifically to those in leadership roles.

But whether you’re defusing internal conflicts among officers or those involving members of the community, conflict management is an essential part of the job for nearly all law enforcement executives.

Read on for specific conflict management strategies you can use in your agency or department, including:

  • Conflict dynamics
  • Understanding conflict sources
  • Identifying useful conflict
  • Active listening
  • Behavior and scenario assessment
  • Creative problem solving
  • Negotiation

[RELATED] Police Communication Skills Matter More Than Ever: Here’s Why >>

Conflict and Workplace Culture

Many workplaces are terrible at conflict management, and law enforcement agencies are no exception. Some suffer from an atmosphere that regards conflict resolution efforts as pointless or “touchy-feely.” Others go about their business in conflict-averse cultures that reward avoidance and accommodation. Some even put up with aggressive, passive-aggressive or self-serving behaviors, hyper-competitiveness, bullying, retribution for speaking the truth, etc. Time is wasted as petty disputes get in the way of the job.

However, with a focused approach to conflict management, law enforcement leaders can transform negative energy into positive opportunities for learning, growth and, ultimately, more effective operations.

Are you ready to head into “the eye of the storm”? You’ll need to be, because effective conflict management requires confrontation, which often means breaking patterns of avoidance.

According to conflict resolution experts Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith, authors of “Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job,” the goal is to establish a workplace culture that:

  • Values open, creative dialogue regarding problems
  • Facilitates genuine collaboration between opponents
  • Supports preventive, persistent, systemic approaches to resolution and learning
  • Is built on a foundation of honest, empathetic, self-critical leadership in addressing and responding to conflicts

So, what exactly does it mean to head into the storm?

According to Cloke and Goldsmith, moving toward adversaries (or bringing two adversaries together) can help uncover the true source of conflict, search for common ground and begin to build an understanding of an opposing viewpoint. The process of heading into the storm creates an environment where people in conflict can “acknowledge what we have in common, clarify and resolve the issues that are dividing us, devise creative solutions, collaboratively negotiate differences, identify and resolve the underlying reasons for the dispute, learn from each other and the conflict, and strengthen and revitalize our relationships.”

Understanding Conflict Sources

In an article titled “3 Rules for Managing Conflict on Your Command Staff,” offers several practical police conflict management strategies that are especially useful in situations involving different units or teams. Though the goal is always to work together when conflict does arise there can be “an instinctive tendency to bunker down and reinforce the lines between competing groups.”

The first challenge is often to determine what is causing the conflict. The majority of conflicts in police agencies and elsewhere spring from one of the following issues:

  • Competition over resources
  • Conflicting goals and deadlines
  • Lack of direction

In each of these scenarios, gaining a clear understanding of the source of the conflict is essential.

Sometimes leadership can inadvertently introduce conflict between groups by assigning conflicting goals or deadlines or failing to give complete directions. When this occurs, you are well-advised to step back, realize where things went awry and make corrections. By clearly identifying priorities, establishing lines of authority, and assigning responsibilities, you are better able to guide the parties involved toward cooperative resolution.

Conflict Dynamics

Social scientists have determined that most people respond to conflict in one of these five ways:

  • Avoidance
  • Accommodation
  • Aggression
  • Compromise
  • Collaboration

Though each of these responses can be useful or even necessary depending on the situation, the most effective approaches often tend to involve compromise and/or collaboration.

To help bring about a resolution to a conflict you may not be involved in first-hand, it is helpful to observe the reactions of the participants, learn what you can from signs of aggression or avoidance and guide them toward the common ground of compromise and collaboration.

Asking thoughtful questions can inspire the conflicted parties to open themselves to other perspectives. For example:

Why do you think they acted as they did?
How do you think they see your actions?

What are your interests?
What are your opponents’ interests?
What interests do you share?
How might both sets of interests be satisfied?

What can you say to the other person that comes straight from your heart and at the same time is clear and nonjudgmental?
What are some things you might do together to increase your cooperation and partnership?

What are the deeper underlying issues in your dispute?
What would it take to resolve them?

This kind of communication is key for leaders as well as their teams, according to Cloke and Goldsmith. “To become genuinely collaborative and transform your conflicts into opportunities for learning and improvement, empathetic and responsive listening is a critical skill.”

Destructive vs. Useful Conflict

The ability to understand that not all conflict is necessarily negative is also essential when using your conflict management skills to strengthen your department. According to, so-called functional conflict can bring about positive change to an organization, building stronger teams and relationships because it often serves as a catalyst for co-workers to get creative — developing “new ways of doing things, new approaches to issues and better ways to communicate.”

“Dysfunctional conflict,” on the other hand, “can destroy the cohesion of an agency.” This type of conflict is more of a potential land mine since it often involves destructive “win at all costs” attitudes and can generate negative energy that stands in the way of getting the job done. In such situations, the same type of cooperative approach is not always possible.

“These are the two faces of conflict,” according to Cloke and Goldsmith, “the destructive and the creative, the stagnant and the active, the aggressive and the transformative. Between them lies a set of strategies, techniques, and approaches for turning one into the other.”

The authors suggest that positive outcomes can also result from chronic or dysfunctional-type conflict; the participants just need to dig deeper to “become more aware of what we are contributing to our conflicts and start to listen and learn from our opponents.”

Active Listening

Active listening — also called empathetic and responsive listening — is considered essential by the authors of “Resolving Conflicts at Work.” It starts with clearing your mind and offering your undivided attention but is much more than that.

“Most people think of listening as a passive activity in which they sit quietly and take in whatever is said. But the best listening is a highly active, responsive, and interactive experience on the part of the listener that requires energy, openness, awareness, and a readiness to bring initiative and curiosity to the conversation,” according to Cloke and Goldsmith. “It means bringing all your senses, including your posture, body language, eye contact, emotions, intentions, heart, and mind to focus on the communication. It means working interactively and collaboratively to clarify your questions and anything you did not completely understand.”

Truly listening, in a way that makes other people feel they have been heard and understood, is “the first step in transforming our opponents into collaborative problem solvers. Empathetic and responsive listening automatically arises when we genuinely care about what our opponent is trying to tell us, and actively reach out with questions, tone of voice, and body language.” This is especially true in negotiating conflict within a law enforcement agency because those involved are highly trained to pick up non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions that — if interpreted negatively — can derail progress.

Whether you are directly involved in conflict with a team member or helping to negotiate a dispute between others, the style of communication you choose to employ — both listening and speaking — is critically important

Emphasizing that effective conflict management also involves strategies for straightforward, sincere, and non-judgmental speaking, Cloke, and Goldsmith offer a valuable series of “Steps for Effective Communication” that leaders can use to participate in, as well as to mediate productive conversations. Considered helpful in situations ranging from calm to hostile, these include:

  • Let go of your own ideas, role and agenda and try to understand what the other person is saying.
  • Before you speak, draw out the other person’s ideas.
  • Respond respectfully and nondefensively, acknowledging and addressing the other person’s concerns first.
  • Anticipate objections and address them before they are raised.
  • Identify and emphasize your areas of agreement.
  • Acknowledge differences and restate issues positively.
  • Ask for feedback to demonstrate and reinforce your positive intentions.
  • Compliment the other person for listening.

Behavior and Scenario Assessment

Some people are just difficult to deal with, right? While this may be true, it is a bad starting point when the goal is to resolve conflict.

Though it is important to identify all of the dynamics that play into a conflict scenario, including personalities and past experiences, Cloke and Goldsmith urge considerable caution around how you define the problem.

Specifically, they assert that attributing the source of the problem to “a difficult person” or “a difficult personality” is counterproductive because it creates a justification for others affected by the issue to play the role of victim.

It is more effective, they contend, to view it instead as a “difficult behavior” or “relationship.” Such a shift can cause the person on the hot seat to feel more respected, empowered and responsible, both for the conflict and its resolution.

Also, here’s a surprisingly underutilized strategy. Since coworkers sometimes engage in challenging behaviors at work that is motivated by reasons we don’t understand, such as personal problems at home, lack of respect from a manager, poor self-esteem, etc. — why not simply ask the person why they are behaving this way? Sometimes this can be enough to restart the conversation from a new perspective.

The authors offer many additional tips for responding to difficult behaviors:

  • Accept other people and their ideas and feelings about the issues that divide you as legitimate from their perspective.
  • Don’t question their character, personality, interests, or feelings.
  • Calm yourself and locate your center. If they yell at you, lower your voice rather than raising it and speak to them with a patient, yet confident tone.
  • Express your curiosity about the reasons for their behavior and the sources of conflict between you. Do not assume you already know the answers.
  • Be willing to observe and release hostile feelings and judgments. Openly acknowledge your own lack of skill in responding to behaviors you do not like.
  • Keep an open mind and an open heart. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt, without conceding that what they are doing is right.
  • Be unconditionally respectful, courteous, acknowledging and hospitable, regardless of their allegations and behaviors.
  • Reach for completion and closure. Make your agreements, understandings, decisions and responsibilities concrete.

[RELATED] The Case for More Effective Law Enforcement Leadership Training >>

Creative Problem Solving

Start by approaching problem-solving with a positive attitude. Regarding your conflicts as opportunities, adventures and challenges will help you avoid taking them too personally or seriously and be far more successful in solving them.

However, the type of positivity that Cloke and Goldsmith recommend involves a very deliberate and multifaceted mindset that includes qualities like:

  • Excitement about the existence and complexity of the problem
  • Appreciation and enjoyment of paradox and contradiction
  • Empathy or compassion for the person you see as the source of the problem
  • Openness to all possible solutions
  • Optimism about the chances for success
  • Balance and flexibility in approaching the problem
  • Curiosity about what caused the problem and your opponent as a person
  • Humility regarding your own role in creating or sustaining it
  • Courage and audacity in addressing difficult or dangerous issues Relaxation in the presence of impasse
  • Subtle awareness regarding the problem that allows subconscious ideas to arise
  • Playfulness and intuition to encourage creative thinking
  • Surrender to other people’s interests, and to the possibility of resolution

The first stage in resolving conflicts consists of opening them up, encouraging them to unfold, and seeing what lies hidden within. But in the problem-solving phase, “the process shifts from expansion to contraction, from emotion to logic, and from large-scale exploration to practical implementation. It is the place where analysis yields to implementation, where leadership is required, and where the deeper meaning of our conflict turns to extremely practical questions, such as who is going to do what by when.”


In “Resolving Conflicts at Work,” the authors distinguish between an aggressive style of negotiation and collaborative negotiation, explaining why they believe collaboration is the far more effective approach.

“In collaborative negotiations, everyone openly and honestly discusses the issues that divide them, analyzes their disagreements in the context of their larger agreements, goals, vision, and shared values, and searches together for solutions that satisfy both sides’ interests.”

The following are some of the key qualities of a collaborative negotiator:

  • They move toward their opponents (rather than against them) in a mutual effort to satisfy interests and achieve win-win outcomes.
  • They listen respectfully, establish common ground rules, emphasize shared values, discuss issues openly and honestly, and take responsibility for having created problems, as well as for implementing solutions.
  • They unconditionally act in a trustworthy, fair, objective, and reasonable way.
  • They refuse to manipulate the process and consistently and consistently work for what both sides want or need.

The PoliceOne article on conflict management asserts that it is also important for law enforcement leaders who are attempting to resolve a dispute to “know when to reframe and refocus.” For example, when efforts at resolution are simply not working, it sometimes becomes necessary for the leader to hit the “reset button.” This can involve:

  • Changing the dynamics of the groups or the lines of communication
  • Designating subgroups to address smaller issues
  • Requiring regular face-to-face meetings between key players

The challenge for the leader is to “establish a new sense of shared success, build a winning streak of cooperation and remind everyone of their combined responsibilities.”

Of course, the ultimate goal for leadership is to build effective conflict management protocols in the workplace. According to Cloke and Goldsmith, this starts with recognizing that in successful organizational cultures, “conflict and collaboration are inextricably linked.”

For leaders, this means setting a tone in which “everyone openly and honestly discusses the issues that divide them, analyzes their disagreements in the context of their larger agreements, goals, vision, and shared values, and searches together for solutions that satisfy both sides’ interests.” This empowers the participants to feel invested in working toward positive outcomes that leave the organization and its members “stronger, more successful and more united.”

Your First Meeting With A Divorce Attorney

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Attorneys Should Make Their Clients Feel Comfortable

Your First Meeting With a Divorce Attorney: How to Prepare - Shaffer Family Law

Many, though not all, divorcing clients experience various emotions when their marriage ends, such as fear, anger, hurt, anxiety, or even depression. They may have to endure constant conflict at home; they may be losing sleep or have deep concerns about how their children will handle the impending divorce news.

As a result of the emotions surrounding a breakup, divorce clients are not generally at their best. Attorneys need to keep this in mind as they approach the first client meeting.

Lawyers should try to make their divorce clients as comfortable as possible, which may require the following:

  • compassion—attorneys are not therapists, but they should be sensitive to their client’s emotional state
  • clear and careful explanations of things—instead of rattling off complex legal theories, statutes, and case law, attorneys should explain the process to the client
  • avoid excessive legal jargon—it may be a challenge for some clients to understand complex legal terminology, and
  • handouts—divorce clients may have difficulty concentrating or remembering everything a lawyer says during a meeting. It’s helpful for the attorney to provide pen and paper for notetaking or handouts that include the topics discussed during the meeting.

Clients Should Make Sure Their Attorney Is Competent

Divorce meeting - Voss Law Offices

If you’re going through a divorce and working with an attorney, make sure the attorney you’ve chosen to speak with is experienced and competent. Before you meet with the attorney, look for reviews online and check with the state bar associations to see if past clients have filed cases of professional misconduct against the attorney.

Also, the attorney’s experience must match your needs. Are you in a complicated, international custody battle? Then make sure the attorney you plan to speak to has been practicing custody for several years. Are you the spouse of a wildly successful venture capital investor? Then make sure your attorney has the know-how to handle the complicated financial analysis that is sure to be a major part of your case. A complex divorce may require an attorney who has practiced law for several years.

On the other hand, if you have a simple divorce (no children or assets), a younger attorney may meet all your needs. You can check with the state bar association to determine how long the attorney has practiced law in your state. If you ask the attorney to list prior experience and the attorney doesn’t answer, it might not be a good fit.

You should find an attorney with whom you can carry on a good working relationship. After all, you may be spending a significant amount of time together. Plus, you’re going to be making life-changing decisions in your divorce, so you want an attorney that you can trust and someone who can explain your rights, responsibilities, and options clearly.

If you’re worried about forgetting everything your attorney says, it may be a good idea to ask for recap emails summarizing your meetings. However, this can become expensive (remember, attorneys charge for their time). If that’s not practical, take notes during meetings so you’ll remember any tasks your attorney asked you to complete, and you can take the next steps without excessive follow-up calls or emails.

Questions to Ask A Potential Lawyer

You may feel intimidated by asking a potential lawyer about education, licensing, or professional experience. However, you’re going to pay a lot of money for legal services, so it’s important to ask questions before hiring someone to represent you. Some common questions to ask a prospective divorce lawyer may include:

  • do you have experience with cases like mine, specifically?
  • do you know my state or county’s specific rules and laws in this case?
  • how long have you practiced in this field of law?
  • are you comfortable taking my case?
  • do you have experience with my judge or my ex-spouse’s attorney?
  • do you have special certifications through your state bar association?

Do Divorce Lawyers Typically Offer Free Consultations?

Many lawyers and law firms offer one free initial consultation per client, which may be in-person, over the phone, or via Zoom. No law requires attorneys to provide free services to potential clients, so it’s important that you ask about the cost before you schedule your initial meeting. If a lawyer offers a free consultation, this is your opportunity to meet with and determine whether that attorney is a good match for your case. Free consultations are not the place for in-depth legal questions, so don’t go into a consultation expecting the attorney to answer case-specific questions. When you decide to hire an attorney, your first meeting after you sign the retainer agreement will include in-depth conversations about your case.

What Should Happen at the First Meeting?

Once you decide to hire an attorney, you’ll sign an agreement that details the attorney and the client’s expectations. A retainer agreement should lay out cost, billing procedures, and details about who will work on your case. For example, lawyers may have a team of associates and paralegals researching or filing documents in your case in large law firms. At the same time, the attorney may only appear in court on your behalf. However, in small law firms, your lawyer may be your only point of contact throughout the entire case. Once you have a contract, you’ll schedule your first meeting with your lawyer. What happens at your first meeting depends on what’s happening in your divorce case.

In some cases, clients hire lawyers after filing for divorce (or receiving divorce papers). In other cases, the spouses have already agreed to a divorce and pledged to use a collaborative divorce process rather than all-out “litigation” (meaning fighting it out in court). Finally, some clients face an emergency—their spouse may be draining bank accounts in anticipation of the divorce, or they may be the victim of domestic violence and need immediate protection from a court. The client’s circumstances control the initial conversation and the steps the attorney will take after the first meeting.

Typically, a client comes in with general questions about an impending or recently-filed divorce. Most lawyers will review the various divorce processes available (collaborative law, divorce mediation, or litigation) and describe the steps for each. From there, you and your lawyer can decide what steps to take next.

The attorney needs to get to know the client as a person and learn as much as possible about the client’s spouse and children (if any). You should expect the attorney to request a detailed client information sheet, which contains all the necessary information an attorney needs without extra phone calls or emails to the client. Because the attorney depends on the accuracy of the information you provide, it’s important to answer the attorney’s questions and questionnaires honestly and completely. An attorney should try to understand the client’s psychological and financial situation to make any necessary referrals to psychotherapists, divorce coaches, estate attorneys, or financial planners for specialized advice.

Many divorce attorneys work closely with other professionals to ensure the client doesn’t have any unanswered divorce-related questions. Remember, an attorney cannot act as a tax advisor or a psychologist, for example, so it’s essential that divorcing spouses hire the right professionals and keep their attorneys informed.

Review relevant divorce-related issues

It’s impossible to predict exactly what will “happen” in a divorce, but it’s best to address all the major issues that may come up, such as

At the end of the first meeting, clients generally leave with homework, which includes learning as much as possible about the couple’s finances in terms of assets, liabilities, and ongoing expenses. In many marriages, only one spouse is in charge of the finances. However, before a judge can finalize a divorce, both spouses need to have a complete understanding of the couple’s incomes, assets, and debts. If you can provide the details about your finances at the first meeting with your new lawyer, the meeting will be much more productive.

Is the Meeting Confidential?

Yes. Sometimes, spouses aren’t completely sure that they want a divorce but want to know what they can expect if they go forward. The law protects all attorney-client communications, and a client’s right to privacy is absolute, so divorce clients shouldn’t have to worry about their spouses finding out.


That First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney – Raza Jones

Every attorney hopes that clients will leave their first attorney meeting feeling that the attorney heard and understood their concern and that their lawyer is tuned in to their specific needs. They should also view their lawyer as experienced, competent, and accessible—someone who can guide them through the stressful time ahead.