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Ep #145: What to Look For When Hiring a Divorce Lawyer with Lauren Fair Part 1 | Becoming You Again Podcast

Hiring the right divorce lawyer can feel like a labyrinth of uncertainty and emotions, but don't worry because I have invited my previous guest, Lauren Fair, back. Lauren is an esteemed family law attorney and life coach who is going to give you everything you need to look for when hiring a divorce attorney.  Her guidance on selecting the perfect divorce lawyer promises to transform confusion into clarity. Throughout this episode, Lauren shares her litigation acumen, coupling it with life coaching finesse to help you understand the pivotal steps in hiring legal representation that not only meets your needs but also resonates with your personal journey through this transition.

Confronting the emotional landslide of a partner's betrayal is daunting, but with Lauren's expert advice, you're not alone. She underscores the importance of a steady mindset when choosing a divorce attorney, ensuring decisions made are strategic and reflective rather than reactive. We dissect the a few of her top five considerations for picking your legal champion, from harnessing personal referrals to utilizing the local bar association's resources, steering you away from potential missteps along the way. Lauren's expertise is invaluable in charting a course through the overwhelming options and ensuring you find a lawyer who's not just competent but also compassionate.

And don't miss next weeks companion episode as we wrap up our conversation and you hear the rest of Lauren's top tips to hiring the right divorce lawyer for you.

For more info about Lauren Fair click here.

To schedule your complimentary consult with Karin click here.

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Grief and trauma are the two biggest struggles women deal with as they go through their divorce. It's highly likely that you are experiencing both and don't even realize what you're feeling. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to grieve your marriage (even if it was shitty) and it's normal to be experiencing some kind of trauma (which is essentially a disconnection from yourself - your mind, body and soul). I can help guide you through the grief in all of the forms it shows up so you can heal. I can also teach you how to ground yourself in healing so you can ease through the trauma. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.

Featured on this episode:

  1. Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.

  2. Are you lost and confused about who you are after divorce? Don't worry. I've got 51 Ways to Get to Know Yourself Again. Click here to download.

  3. Want to work first hand with Karin so you can stop worrying about what your life will be like after divorce, and instead begin making it amazing today? Click here to schedule a consult to find out more about working 1:1 with Karin as your coach.

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Full Episode Transcript:

This is episode number 145 of Becoming you Again, and I am your host, Karin Nelson. Welcome back to the podcast. This week I have a special treat to kind of start the new year off. I guess we've already had one episode so far, but the next two episodes I am very excited about because I have my friend and amazing guest, who you've already heard from before, Lauren Fair, and we are talking about what to look for when hiring a divorce lawyer. These two episodes which, again, it was one conversation, but I had to split it into two because we just like to talk and she has so much amazing information as a family law attorney and a life coach, and this was a topic that we had wanted to cover on our previous podcast episode that we did together, but we didn't have time and so I invited Lauren to come back and we talked about this. And if you were going through a divorce and you are thinking about getting an attorney, you're looking into getting an attorney, you're just not sure where to start or how to find the right attorney for you, this is the podcast episode for you. Lauren is going to walk you through all of the things that you need to be thinking about, knowing asking questions about, like all of the things. In this first half of our conversation, lauren is going to be walking you through a few of the tips that she thinks are the most important things to be looking for when hiring a divorce lawyer. And then, of course, don't miss next week's episode, where it will be the conclusion of our conversation and she will take you through the rest of her tips. I'm telling you, these tips are gold, and if you are like most of us and you are looking for a lawyer when it comes to your divorce and you're confused and you don't know where to start and emotions are high and it's hard to make a decision, then I promise you these two episodes are the one for you. So let me stop talking, because I know you're excited to hear, and let's just jump right in. Welcome back to the podcast. My lovely ladies, I am so excited for you to be here today because I have a special guest. My friend, lauren Fair, is back. If you listened to our previous, it ended up being two episodes because we talked for so long and she had such amazing expertise and wisdom to offer you all. But she's back and I'm so excited that she's here. Lauren, first of all, thank you so much for being here on the podcast today.

Lauren Fair: 2:55

Oh, you're so welcome, thank you so much for inviting me. We had too much fun last time. I know we did, we did.

Karin Nelson: 2:59

So let me just give a little quick intro of Lauren in case you missed the other two. And, by the way, if you missed those other two episodes, you need to go back and listen to them, because Lauren, as you're going to find out in just a second, is a family love story attorney. She is a certified divorce coach and a life coach. So, like, literally no matter what you're looking for with regards to divorce help, she's basically got you covered, and we talked about so many amazing things in our last episode and there was actually some things that we didn't cover last time because we talked about all these other things and we just kept going, and it was a very long episode, which is why I clipped it into two, and she's just like a wealth of information, and so I'm very excited to have her back on the podcast today to cover one of the topics that we were going to cover last time and ended up not being able to. But today we are talking about what to look for when hiring a divorce lawyer.

Lauren Fair: 3:54

I'm so excited to talk about this topic here and I feel like this is so important for people to have the best information on at the beginning of the divorce process, and I find that oftentimes going through divorce is the first reason that many people have had in their lives too higher an attorney and so it might be their first time going through that process, and it's during a time when really emotions are high and when emotions are high, we just know. Necessarily intelligence is a bit lower than it normally is. And so this is something that we love supporting people in, because the decision that you make about which attorney you're going to work with really can affect the trajectory of how the process goes on so many fronts.

Karin Nelson: 5:01

Yeah, and I think it can be a daunting task. Like you say, for a lot of people this is the first time having to ever even think about hiring a lawyer or deal with a lawyer or deal with the court system or whatever it ends up being. And so I think just having a guideline of like, what do I ask, what do I look for, how do I know this lawyer is going to be in my corner and on my side and show up for me, right?

Lauren Fair: 5:36

Yeah, and I think one tip before we even get deeper into how do I find the best attorney fit for me is the idea that doing some investigation and some preliminary you know interviews and consultations with some attorneys early on is really advisable, because oftentimes the decision about who you're going to hire gets made right after some really like activating event. Where you just had a fight with your spouse or you know some other big event that just happened, you may have discovered something right that changes everything for you, and it's just a very activated place, a very emotional place right to then be starting this process of calling an attorney, starting to do consultations and if you can, if at all possible, avoid doing it when you know hiring someone that is right, right away after you have that sort of event that's transpired, the better, just because you know we make better decisions when we are in a more emotionally grounded state.

Karin Nelson: 7:08


Lauren Fair: 7:08

And sometimes you can't avoid it right, like sometimes, obviously, if safety is a concern and you need to hire somebody right away, you do what you have to do. But if this is something that you know you're going to be doing at some point, it is really advisable to try to do that before that last second of when you may need to be hiring somebody, just so that you can have, you know, the best opportunity to make the best decision for yourself.

Karin Nelson: 7:39

I love that advice and in fact that just reminded me we had been talking before we hit record and you were asking me, like if I had a lawyer involved with my divorce and a lot of my podcast listeners will know that my ex and I were we were very amicable and we kind of just we had a lawyer drop the papers but we didn't really have a lot of back and forth and trying to figure things out. But you talking about that, making that decision with a lawyer reminded me I had forgotten this. But when I found out about my ex's affair, I sort of found out, like he didn't tell me, I found out and I was alone when I found out. And I have an aunt who is a retired divorce attorney and one of the very first things that I did after I found out was I reached out to her. I just called her and said, you know, I just asked her advice. I said, you know, I know you're not a lawyer anymore, but would you be willing to just give me a little bit of advice? And then I kind of told her what happened and she gave me, you know, her best advice in that moment over our very short, you know, five, 10 minute conversation and then I just kind of let that advice settle and did exactly what you just said to do. I didn't like run and find the first lawyer that I could find and hire them and say let's take him for all. He's got always worth, you know, whatever, which is what I was feeling, I was absolutely. I felt so betrayed and let down and used and disappointed and sad and all of the things right that someone might feel if they found out their partner was having an affair and right. And so letting that just kind of settle within me and figure out what my next best step was going to be was the answer for me. I know it's hard in those moments to do that, but I think that is such great advice of just allowing yourself to kind of sit and not for decades and not talking about, you know, just let it go on forever and stay in the situation forever. But it's just giving yourself a moment to calm your you know your nervous system and get get a little bit more regulated in yourself and what it is you truly want, so that when you go to those interviews and you go looking for someone, you will have a better idea of what's going to be best for you, who is going to be best for you.

Lauren Fair: 10:11

Definitely. I love that you shared that, because it's not only the risk of hiring the wrong attorney when you're coming from this really super activated emotional state, but it's also that second piece that you mentioned of taking certain actions once you hire the attorney right, or even you know, outside of the legal process, decisions that are made and actions that are taken at that point when you are in that really you know emotional space, yeah, that high end level, exactly that really can potentially have a significant impact on where that entire situation ends up going. It increases oftentimes the level of conflict because you know it's a threat, right, it's a threat to your nervous systems?

Karin Nelson: 11:10


Lauren Fair: 11:10

And so when we perceive threats, then we take actions to protect ourselves, and sometimes those might be more aggressive than ultimately we might want to choose to be when we are back in a little bit more of a grounded space. But just to be able to give yourself that opportunity to make a more intentional decision, whatever that decision is, you know, I think it's something we really owe ourselves. When you know we're talking about a process that can be very lengthy, very costly, very impactful to children, right, being able to get back to that grounded space first, before we're making, you know, these big decisions about who we're gonna work with or what we're gonna do, you know right out of the gate, is really critical.

Karin Nelson: 11:56

Yeah, oh, so smart, all right, so walk us through this. What you told me earlier, that you have like somewhere around five things that you kind of think are the best ways to figure out who is the best lawyer for you, or however you wanna word that. So start there. What, would you say, is the first thing we need to be looking for?

Lauren Fair: 12:15

Yeah, yeah, so I do. I have five different kind of umbrella areas of things that we wanna consider when we're looking for a divorce attorney. But just briefly, before that, if you don't know where to even start getting names from right Cause what I'm gonna talk about today in those five areas is okay when we're really assessing these names, what are we looking for? Yeah, you know what's most important for us to consider, but you know, because it's oftentimes that first time that you've ever had to hire a lawyer, like, you may not know many, right, or you might know one, a neighbor or something, right, but you don't necessarily know, okay, for this particular issue, like where should I, who should I even talk to? Where do I even look? Yeah, yeah. So I would say, most commonly you get those initial names from one of three places. One is asking friends and family who have been through a divorce for a referral. If they've worked with somebody and they had a good experience with that person. You know that might be somebody that you might want to consider. You know, on your shortlist, if you don't know anybody who's gone through a divorce or they went through a divorce and they didn't particularly love their attorney, that happens quite a bit If second option could be the local bar association. Every state has a bar association, and then there are local bar associations you know throughout the state, but contacting the one that's in your county is a good place to start as well, because oftentimes they have referral panels that are specific to practice areas. So it's something to at least investigate. If you don't have any other leads is to call the local county bar association and ask them hey, you know, do you have anyone you could refer me to for you know a family law matter, a divorce matter, et cetera. And usually they can provide you with a handful of names as a starting place. And the third is just doing a good old fashioned Google search. I love it. That will return a lot of options, though, but it can be a good place as well just to start. You know getting some options and start doing some preliminary. You know looking at websites, reading bios and things like that. But once you've done that, you know you have, at least from one of these three sources or something else you know maybe another source that works for you. You've got some list of names, and usually I recommend interviewing somewhere between two to five.

Karin Nelson: 15:00

Okay, that's a good number, I think.

Lauren Fair: 15:02

Yeah, I think you know, having at least you know two is important to be able to, you know, have some comparison, like some options for yourself to weigh. But when you really get to more than five, I think that adds to the overwhelm that already is going on.

Karin Nelson: 15:22

Yeah, absolutely, cause then it's almost like you have too many choices. Yeah, it's just too much. This doesn't really have anything to do with anything other than the fact that my daughter has anxiety and I've talked about this on the podcast before. But choices for anxious people and often when you're going through a divorce, your anxiety level is very high but a lot of choices for someone who has anxiety is too much. You're so right, it is very overwhelming. So I like that sweet spot of like two to five Maybe not too many, but it's maybe just exactly right.

Lauren Fair: 15:58

Yeah, yeah, I think if you're in the space of you know, you're at more than five attorneys. At that point I think you really gotta ask yourself what is it that I'm looking for? Yeah, you know. And how am I gonna know when I'm there? And also, like, what's the utility of continuing to add?

Karin Nelson: 16:13

to these options at this point. Good questions?

Lauren Fair: 16:17

Okay. So, returning to the five umbrella areas, let's do it, okay. So the first is experience and credentials. Okay, and so what we're talking about here really is a few things. One is that, credential-wise, you need an attorney that is licensed in your state. Family law is very state-based, and so you've got to have an attorney that is licensed to practice, like where your case is going to be filed. Okay, and I think sometimes too, this is where the relative thing comes in, right, like you mentioned earlier about asking a relative for advice, and that's great if you have somebody that can help you in those moments, right? Like you had at the beginning of like freak out, I need some input. But when you're starting to consult an attorney for the purpose of making decisions about hiring somebody or taking actual legal steps, at that point it's really important that you're talking to somebody who is their local, you know in your jurisdiction, call it legal field right it's an example of. I live in San Diego and I'm originally from Pennsylvania and I get a lot of inquiries from time to time from people from Pennsylvania wanting advice on their family law situation. And although I would love to help them and yes, there are some commonalities among you know family law laws from state to state they do differ. In addition to not being licensed there to give advice, I also just truly don't know you know, like locally for some of these things how this might get resolved in Pennsylvania. Right, it might be different than in California.

Karin Nelson: 18:10

Yeah, I was going to say in Utah, because I'm in Utah, you're in California. I'm sure that the laws are different, Like I would be. You know, it would be unusual, I think, if they were exactly the same from state to state, because the backgrounds of the people and the legislators and the people who make the laws is all different, and so that's really, you know, sound advice, understanding that you can't just go hire anybody. It literally has to be someone from your area.

Lauren Fair: 18:40

Right, right, yeah, and it seems basic, but you know it's again. Sometimes, you know when those are early stages, we don't really think about that, right, like, if this is your first experience with the family law field, you may not really realize. You know how important it is for you to be talking to somebody who really is local and so, assuming that's met right, assuming they're local, the next concern is are they a family law attorney? Do they primarily focus on divorce and family law?

Karin Nelson: 19:17

Because you're not going to want to hire like a criminal attorney or someone who specializes in malpractice suits or something like that. That really has nothing to do with what it is that you are looking for.

Lauren Fair: 19:31

Exactly yes, I like to say you don't hire a dermatologist to do your heart surgery. Yeah absolutely Both doctors, but clearly very different specialties, very different skill sets. Right, and family law is really specialized area. So, exactly what you were saying, you really don't want to go hire, you know, a tax attorney to do your divorce, for example. I mean, sometimes there are tax issues that come up in divorce. You might want to ask a tax attorney a question that might help you in your divorce, but the point being is, you really want someone who is dedicating their practice to family law, you know, and also not, like I did two divorce cases 10 years ago. You know, like they have active and current family law knowledge. Yes, yeah, and some states have a specific designation too that you can earn. For example, in California, you can seek a designation from the state bar as a certified legal specialist in the area of family law, which involves, you know, additional testing and other criteria that the bar uses to determine okay, is this person you know really experienced in the area of family law? And so that's sometimes a way, too, that you can assess, as a legal consumer, you know, how experienced that person is in that particular area of the law and you know if you're considering somebody who doesn't have it or you're in a state where they don't have that kind of designation. We're really just looking for somebody who's, you know, dedicating the majority of their practice to family law, and they've been doing it for a long time. you know, I think, though, on the topic of doing it for a long time, is just to say to that, you know, hiring a younger attorney is not necessarily a bad thing. I think sometimes we assume that, you know, gray hair equals experience, and sometimes that's true, but it's not always, and you know. I think, really, what you're looking for here is is do they have enough experience? I feel like they know what they're talking about and you know that they're hungry too. I think there's a value in that right, like, do they kind of have some get up and go, like they're excited to work with me and they have, you know, the experience to do that, and I think sometimes you see that in younger attorneys and they get discounted a little bit, you know, for being younger Because they might not have all of the clients that this person who's been in the practice or who's had their practice for 30 years, compared to somebody who has, you know, passed the bar four years ago or two years ago or something. Yeah, yeah. So the second area that I like clients to consider is the personality and the communication style of the attorney. I would say that's probably the next most important factor after the experience of the credentialing, because the number one complaint to the California State Bar about attorneys is relating to communication issues.

Karin Nelson: 22:45


Lauren Fair: 22:46

Yeah, so when you are meeting with an attorney for a consultation, there's some things to consider. Are you know, is it an easy interaction with the attorney? You know, like, do you feel comfortable talking with this person? Because you're going to be talking to them about some pretty personal and delicate issues, and if you don't feel comfortable talking to them, you just got to consider the impact of that on you over the next, you know, months to, for some people, years.

Karin Nelson: 23:20

Yes, so I think that idea of like, how do I mesh with this person when I'm in their presence? Because I think sometimes, and just from speaking from the experience of women in general If we are in the room with a male counterpart, like, say, you're going and you're interviewing a male attorney and you are a woman who has very often discounted your own opinion and your own voice, and the man starts speaking and you have a hard time, maybe you feel a little inadequate, speaking up for yourself or saying I don't agree with that, or asking questions, even If you don't even feel comfortable enough to do that around your attorney right now, at the beginning, in the interview phase, then I think it's so important to recognize that because it's just going to continue in that same vein and then you might get a year into working with this lawyer going. I don't even feel like I can talk to him. I don't even feel like he understands what I want. I don't even feel like he knows what I'm looking for here, which you have to understand. That's on you, not to say that he's doing anything wrong, not to say that you are a bad person, but let's get to a place where you feel comfortable even speaking with this person in the first place.

Lauren Fair: 24:44

Right, exactly. Yeah, Also to your point are they listening to you? That's something to really be mindful of in the consultation is are they really listening to me and what I'm saying, what my concerns are, what my goals are? Do I feel like they understand where I'm coming from and are they hearing what I'm saying? Yeah, Because if they don't, in the consult, they're probably not going to get any better at it as they go along.

Karin Nelson: 25:14

I think these are important, really, really important things for someone who is thinking about a divorce, someone who is in this process right now, figuring out what to do, because I think these are things that to us or to someone who's gone through the process may seem very obvious. Well, of course, you would just hire somebody that listens to you and is on your team and you feel comfortable with, and blah, blah, blah, and that has the credentials. But I think we've already talked about when your emotions are high, your intelligence level. I'm not saying that everyone is stupid, but it is a proven fact that when your emotions are very high, our intelligence level does dip. We don't think about some things that might seem obvious outside of this situation. So, having this guide of sometimes we got to look for the obvious so that we can help ourselves out down the road, so that we're not going to make a decision that is very not helpful in the moment, that is very costly in the moment.

Lauren Fair: 26:23

Yeah, I mean working in family law for more than 15 years. I have seen so many times where people are changing attorneys midstream. Yeah, and that can be for a variety of reasons, but a big one is they made the wrong decision at the beginning. Yeah, it's very common, but it has a lot of impact on you as the client and on the case in general when you've got to change in the middle. So to the extent that you can slow down and force yourself to really think through these points that do seem basic, we just lose them when we're in that really activated state. Yes, but on the communication topic, another thing that if it's important to you as a client is finding out what would communications be like as a client? Are they primarily by email, which a lot of the time they are now by phone? When I want to talk to the attorney, how do I contact the attorney? There are some attorneys that expect all of the communications to come through the paralegal. I'm a day-to-day basis and maybe that's fine with you, but if you're expecting to have direct access to the attorney every day and you don't get that, then that is where you run into problems. So if it's a concern for you as an individual. What is my access to the attorney going to be like? How do I get my questions answered when I want them answered? Asking some particulars about those upfront can just help you decide. Is the way this firm is run a match for me or not? Is it?

Karin Nelson: 28:11

going to work for me down the road.

Lauren Fair: 28:13

Yeah, yeah, I love that. The third area of analysis is approach, and what I mean by that is what is the attorney's approach in general to cases and specifically to what you're telling them in your consultation? A lot of family law cases end up settling. It's just a question of where in the process they end up settling. Very few actually end up in a trial at the end Because it's expensive, it takes a lot of time and in very few situations the benefit of all of that outweigh the costs associated with it. But it doesn't feel like it's ever going to settle in the beginning because it's so emotional and volatile sometimes in the beginning. So, getting a sense for is this attorney really litigation focused? Is this attorney settlement minded? What is the tenor of what I'm hearing about? What's going to happen next and also asking for and getting some feedback around. Here's what my situation is and here's what my concerns, questions and goals are. Based on that, what would you suggest, what would be your approach for how we might address these issues? And listening to the response and just seeing, does that really resonate with me, does that sound like what would make sense for me, and even sometimes if that means it's not exactly what you wanted to hear, but it nonetheless makes sense and sounds like probably the right advice.

Karin Nelson: 30:05

Yeah, I love that. I think, again, this goes back to this idea of like does this kind of align with me as a person? Because I think often we can be told one thing and it doesn't necessarily like we're very heightened, we just want to hear the best news possible, kind of idea, you know, like, oh, I can get you whatever it is that you want. You know you, these are your goals, okay, we're going to get you all of that. But that might feel good, that might feel great actually when you're, when you're very worried about what the future is going to look like and how often you're going to be able to see your kids and how much money you're going to be able to have in your bank account at the end of this to live off of and to, you know, provide for your, for your kids in your future. So that might feel really good, but isn't in alignment with, like, what you know to be true and possible for you. And I think you as an individual can discern that you have the power to know what is right and when someone's telling you what you want to hear, or when someone is truly like Listen, here's the truth about the situation. You've told me your side of things. You've told me what your goals are. This is like the reality and this is, I think, the best approach and how we're going to get there. Will we get everything? Probably not, and then you get to decide from there. Does that align with me? Does that align with what I want? Am I okay with that? Do I feel good in this presence, in the presence of this person?

Lauren Fair: 31:42

Right, yeah, I mean, are you getting guarantees? Do you feel like you're getting over promised something like it sounds good, it's what you want to hear, but there's maybe that part of you that's like that's really what I want, but like, do I really think that that's what's going to end up happening? You know, it's just something to pause and think about for a minute, about you know really where that lands for you.

Karin Nelson: 32:06

Yeah, All right, my friends, that is the end of the first half of our conversation. Make sure and tune in next week for the rest of the tips that Lauren has for you. She is a wealth of knowledge, she is an incredible human being and I feel so honored to be able to call her my friend and even more honored that she has been willing to come back on the podcast. So make sure and tune in next week for the second half of our conversation, where you can get the rest of the tips when it comes to what to look for when hiring a divorce lawyer. I will talk to you then. Thanks for listening. If this podcast agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give me a rating wherever you listen to podcasts and for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married. Make sure and check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.


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