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Ep #146: Finding the Right Divorce Attorney with Lauren Fair Part 2 | Becoming You Again Podcast

Finding a divorce attorney that you know is on your side can feel scary and daunting, amongst all the other things that you have to think about, plan and deal with during your divorce. But finding the perfect attorney for you doesn't have to be hard. In this week's part two episode my guest, Lauren Fair, a family law attorney and life coach will take you through the last two and half tips of how to find the perfect divorce lawyer for you.

With Lauren's expertise at your disposal, we dissect the financial anatomy of lawyer rates and retainer fees, and lay out strategies to manage your legal budget without compromising on representation quality. This episode is the conclusion to laying out your road map to finding a divorce attorney who not only knows the local terrain but also will be the perfect match to your your pace and in your style, ensuring that your voice is heard and your future is protected. Join us and arm yourself with the knowledge to steer through your divorce with confidence and clarity.

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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:

Can you believe it? We're already at episode 146 of Becoming you Again, and I am your host, Karin Nelson. Welcome to Becoming you Again, the podcast to help you with your mental and emotional well-being during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the grief and trauma of your divorce. We're going to do that by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life so that your life can be even better than when you were married. I'm your host, Karen Nelson. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm sure you're all very, very excited to hear part two of my conversation with Lauren Fair. If you remember, last week I had Lauren come on and she has been taking us through her five top tips on what every woman needs to know when hiring a divorce attorney, and so we are just going to jump right in to the continuation of our amazing conversation so that you can get the rest of Lauren's top tips and get out there and hire the best lawyer for you as you go through your divorce. When you go into this number three, where we're kind of talking about the path that this lawyer is possibly going to take to get us to the end goal, is it really this idea, like is there a specific question, or is it really just telling them your situation, telling them your goals and what you're hoping to get, and then just looking for specific clues in what they're telling you? Like, is that kind of the guidepost that we want to be using in this, or is there something more specific of like do we have to go to trial? Like, is that an approach that you'd like to take? Is that something that's very common for you? Is it more mediation based, or is there something more that they can kind of dig to, kind of guide in asking questions with this person who's in front of them?

Lauren Fair: 2:01

Yeah, I think that there are different ways to approach it. I think one is sharing just where you are, what brings you into the consult and what your major goals are for the process, right, or concerns about what's going on that you would like to have addressed in the legal process, and just asking them in general, like what would be your plan for this, based on what I shared with you, like what would you recommend? And hearing you know what the response is right, and just sort of trying to assess okay, does that make sense to me? Does that feel right to me? Is that sort of the approach that I want to take, or is it sounding way too aggressive or is it sounding not aggressive enough?

Karin Nelson: 2:51

Maybe yeah.

Lauren Fair: 2:52

Right. It's going to obviously differ depending on the situation, but you can even ask more specific questions if you want. Like is this a case that you, you know, envision settling? What do you think the likelihood is of that? What do you think might be, you know, in the way of that happening? Or is this something that you know you think would do well in mediation? What percentage of your cases do you end up taking to trial? I mean, these are all just examples for you know someone to choose like based on their situation. What's really, you know, important for them to know? But, here's the thing, Karin is I think you know someone could be listening to this and saying, well, I don't really know what I want, like, or I don't really know where I want to go. And this is the point to pause and consider working with a coach, because you really oftentimes don't know, because you're so wrapped up in whatever it is that's happening, that's bringing you into this situation to begin with, that it's really hard to see the future for things, and the future being like a month from now, right, or three years from now. And so this is a time where it can be really beneficial to have some support in determining, hey, what do I want the future to look like in various you know aspects of what that entails. Right, like one could be what you want the co-parenting relationship to be like, what you would like in terms of you know where you're going to be living or what kind of time you're going to be spending with your children, and there's so many different aspects of what is my life going to look like at the end of this process that there can be decisions made at the beginning that can affect whether you get there right in the end, and so it's a really important step to stop and think about what is the target that we're aiming for here, because if we know where the target is, we have a much better chance of hitting it.

Karin Nelson: 5:18

Yes, and we actually okay. So I'm just going to direct everyone who's listening back to Lauren and Mai's previous podcast episode, because we talk a lot about this idea of knowing the end goal, like having that target and really thinking about what it is that you want, so that you know, so that you're not just shooting at this target. That's like you have no aim. You don't even know where you're going or what you're asking for or what you're looking for, what you want. So I love directing everyone back to this idea of whether it's with a coach or a confidant or someone that you feel comfortable with, who understands this process, of helping you think about these things and talk through them and work through them and make decisions for yourself about the direction that you want to go and what's going to be best for you, Because it's not the same across the board for everyone what's important to me may not be important to you, Lauren, and what's important to that person over there may not be important to either one of us and so it really is understanding for yourself. What do I want? And asking yourself those questions in all of these different areas what do I want? What's the end goal?

Lauren Fair: 6:38

Yes, yes, and thinking about what might jeopardize me getting that, and if you can have that valuable support of really thoughtfully going through and looking at what is it that I want to end up with here, then you can use that information to inform your decision around who might be the best attorney to help me get there.

Karin Nelson: 7:09

I love that. Just bringing it back around Like this is where I want and I've talked to these people and I feel like this one, this is the person who can help me get as close to that goal as possible.

Lauren Fair: 7:22

Yeah, because there are those different approaches Right, and so you've got to look at, based on where I want to go, what is the best way for me to get there. And sometimes that means choosing a different actual legal process that you utilize to get through it right. Whether that's mediation, whether that's litigation, whether that's attorney to attorney negotiation right. There's different ways of getting like from the beginning to an end of a divorce legal process, and those have different implications on the outcomes that you get, on the tenor of the relationship with your spouse for the future. If you've got kids, that's important. It does have an impact on your peace and your post-divorce life, and so these are just different facets of this process that, if you can really be mindful about it, just allows you to make a much more intentional decision and be able to plug in the right professionals that will help you get to that outcome. And so one example of that might be, when it comes to hiring an attorney, is if you ultimately decide that you want to pursue a mediation process, and maybe you want to do that directly with your spouse and a mediator, without attorneys present. Maybe you still want legal advice, but you want it in the background for the time being, while you try mediation, and there are attorneys that do that, who provide consulting services kind of in the background to help you while you're in mediation, but there are some attorneys that don't want to do that work and so if you don't know right like that, that's the route that you ultimately will want to go, then you just don't know. Then what kind you know, are we using that as criteria or not for assessing you know whether this is the right attorney for me, like are do they even offer the service that I need?

Karin Nelson: 9:10

Yeah, and I think this is just also going to be, you know, saving hopefully possibly money for you in the long run, because perhaps you hire this person who isn't going to go the mediation route it's not really something that they do. You don't know that going into this relationship. Then you've put money down, you've put your retainer down on this person and you're just continuing to funnel in money and nothing seems to be going your way and nothing seems to be going how you thought it was going to. Then, all of a sudden, you're like we've been at this for a year and a half and I thought we were going to do mediation and I can't get a hold of my lawyer and nothing's really happened. It can be a very costly and very frustrating situation. I think taking these few steps and really thinking about things before you make that decision is just going to save you heartache and possibly money in the long run.

Lauren Fair: 10:11

Yes. The fourth area that we want to look at is just a deeper dive into location. We talked before about we want to get somebody in the state. Yes, if you can get somebody who is very local to where you are, meaning the county that you're in, that's going to be important, and I just want to dive into a little bit more about why that's important. It's for two major reasons. One is that family law attorneys bill hourly for their time. If they're going to court on your case and they're two hours away from the courthouse that they need to get to, or maybe even more, like in California, you hire an attorney who is up in LA for a San Diego case that might be a four-hour drive one way down here in traffic. The attorneys charge for travel time most of the time If they're traveling to and from court and it's taking them four hours each way. You've now added on eight hours of billable time just for travel to what is already an expensive legal bill for their time at the hearing. It's just something to consider. Now, post-pandemic, some places are much better with remote appearances, like virtual appearances, now than they ever were before, but not always. It depends on your local court processes. It depends on, sometimes, the type of the hearing, whether the attorney thinks it's better that they be there in person or not. It's just something to consider. If you're going to hire someone who is not local to your courthouse, do they charge for travel time and how often do we think that's going to be happening, and use that data point, among others, for you to decide what impact you want that to have on your decision Such a good point.

Karin Nelson: 11:57

I don't know that that would have even occurred to me if I was out looking for an attorney to help me in my divorce. Obviously, I would prefer someone who's closer, but I live a half an hour away from Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City is much bigger area than the county that I live in. My brain might go well, there's going to be more experienced lawyers in Salt Lake. Maybe I would just want to hire one from there to come up here to the court system. That's a very good point, because I think that's again. It might seem obvious to some people, but maybe not. Maybe it's not an obvious thing and we just need to be aware that this is something that we should be thinking about, that we should consider in this decision-making process.

Lauren Fair: 12:46

Yeah, if you expect that your case is not going to end up in court, it might be less of a concern, because if they're not traveling to court then maybe that's not such a problem. If so long as they're still in your state somewhere, I think it depends on your individual situation, but it's something to think about Absolutely. Another one is, on this point, the issue of knowing local court procedures, because, for example, in California, san Diego has very specific local rules and procedures that differ from, say, what happens in Santa Clara County, where I went to law school originally, because I worked in family law up there too, so I have that personal experience of just seeing the actual process is somewhat different up there than it is down here. There are different local rules and different ways of doing things. Also, there's just the knowledge that you get of how certain judges demeanor is in the courtroom kind of, maybe where they fall in certain issues. You know that you get from active local practice right, that if I go to some remote county in Northern California, right like, I'm not going to have any of that local knowledge, and so I think sometimes that's not beneficial for clients. You know when that occurs, because they do kind of lack some of that, that local kind of expertise. So again, that's just something to consider. You know, among other factors that you may be considering and making your selection. So the fifth and last area that we'll talk about today is just the cost of the attorneys, because there is not a set price right, it's not a universal price for getting a divorce, unfortunately as much as we all might hope that oh amazing, that might be Right. Right, and I mean, of course, everybody wants the best representation that they can have, right. But you know, do we need best of the best there or do we need like really competent, really great and also more of a mid-range price? You know, as an example, and that's going to just be an individual decision based on your own budget. You know, and that's something to that, you know, in coaching I think there's much more of an opportunity to examine is what really is my budget for this process and what does that mean for the decisions I want to make around the process, selection itself, around the attorney that I want to work with, et cetera. Because attorneys fees add up really quickly, family law billing is just done hourly, because you don't know at the beginning of a case what direction it's going to go, because it is a very active and ongoing dispute, and so even you can even have a situation where you go into a consultation under the impression that you have an agreement on everything, because last night you sat at the dining table and you agreed on everything, and then tomorrow he says you know, he talked to an attorney, he's changed his mind, right.

Karin Nelson: 16:17

So I've heard all this. Just as a coach, I'm sure you have to definitely have heard all of this.

Lauren Fair: 16:23

Yeah, and so that's really why, you know, most family law attorneys do not charge flat fees, for example, which is just like a fixed price for all of the services, Because we just don't know what's going to happen, how much communication you know one individual client needs, the counsel that's going to get involved on the other side, and how they're going to impact the dynamic, and you know. So you've just got to sort of accept that most of the time you're not going to know at the beginning, ultimately how many hours are going to be necessary in order to resolve your case right, unless you are in a situation, say, for example, where you're doing mediation at a flat fee or something right. So a couple of things to think about here are what is the attorney's hourly rate? And you know, I would say, in where I am right now, that's varying between probably, on average, 300 and 600 an hour, and that's going to vary. That's an important thing that you need to know going into this, there's that piece, and then there's the retainer deposit, which is like the advance on those hourly fees that's paid in the beginning, and I find here that it's really averaging between five and 10,000 right now, and I think sometimes people think they're just sort of focused on that initial retainer amount. Like I just got to come up with that, right, and that is true in the beginning. You've got to come up with that to get the attorney on board, but that's just not the end in many cases of you know what the charges are going to entail, and so I think one of the things that's useful at the beginning is to look at okay, for this attorney, this is the retainer amount. Here's what the billable hour rate is. What is that translated into? Like how many hours am I actually getting right of this attorney's time for that retainer?

Karin Nelson: 18:28

And so, just so I'm clear, because I'm pretty sure that I understand what the retainer is. But it's like a base, it's a set amount of like, like you said, between probably five and 10,000, just depending on where you're at and so you would kind of divide that amount by whatever their billable hours are, and that gives you an idea of how many hours you've just paid for to start the divorce process with this person. Yes, and then anything that comes after that is at their billable hour rate after they've used up that initial retainer.

Lauren Fair: 19:02

Yes, and different attorneys have different policies about what happens when the retainer is gone. They either will require that you replenish the retainer, so essentially you pay another retainer, right? You keep your trust account funded with the retainer at all times. Or some of them are more flexible and allow you to pay the bill when it comes. Some will allow payment plans, some won't. So those are some important things too to think about and perhaps ask any questions around those issues that might be important for you to consider with your attorney. But yes, I mean you take that retainer amount and sort of divide it by the hourly rate, and you can bear in mind too that they do have staff oftentimes who bill at lower rates, so the paralegal may be doing some work on your case at a lower rate. Ok, and all of those rates should be in the fee agreement that you're reviewing and signing before you hire the attorney. But you got to just consider, you know how many hours do I think this is going to get me in terms of actual legal time, and understand that oftentimes it does go beyond the retainer. And so, for my personal budget, what feels, you know, like the best for me in considering these other factors, you know beyond cost, but really, you know, for most families, cost is a real concern in this process.

Karin Nelson: 20:30

Absolutely, absolutely and especially going into this process and thinking about, like, ok, right now my budget is this, but as I go through this divorce and things start to change, what's my budget going to look like then? And really educating yourself on financially what you can, what's doable, what you can make work for you. I think really, just this whole conversation is very much about educating yourself on this potential person that you are going to be hiring and really opening yourself up to asking a lot of questions, thinking about things and understanding things from a perspective of what feels best for me, what feels aligned with what it is that I want. And again, going back to this idea of you know you best. You might not feel like you know you best, but I promise you, the more you can tap into making decisions, the easier it is to understand what decisions are right for you and the directions are right for you and you kind of tap into that alignment and that, in that intuition of this, is the right decision for me.

Lauren Fair: 21:48

Yeah, definitely, and there are so many reasons that an attorney can be really useful to you in this process, you know, just from managing expectations to protecting your interests and helping educate you on what the law is right, so you know what's reasonable to settle for. But what we just want to make sure is that you're making the right decision about who that person is going to be and, specifically, how are they going to play a role right in your individual case. And you not, you know, have somebody that you think you're going to go the distance with and you know, a month into it you realize you know you've either made a mistake or it's just outside your budget. And now you've got to, you know, start that process over again. That's just never what I want another woman to have to do.

Karin Nelson: 22:37

If it can be avoided, you know. Yeah, and what a frustrating thing to have to get you know into this process and realize, like I don't I hate to use the word mistake, because obviously you're going to be learning something from this and so but like, oh no, this wasn't possibly the right choice for me because I wasn't allowing myself the opportunity to consider all of these things that have been laid out in front of me now. Hindsight can often offer us a lot of information, but if we can get that information up front and not need it in hindsight, like what a benefit that is going to be for you going into your divorce and your future, what that future is going to look like for you, yeah, definitely, and you know, if you feel like maybe you made the wrong decision about who you hired, I think you just need to give yourself a lot of compassion, because you made the best decision that you could at the time with the information that you had available.

Lauren Fair: 23:41

And if you're feeling like you want to change now, you know, course, in terms of, maybe, the way it's being handled or the person that's handling it, maybe you know, now you have some additional experience and data that you can utilize to make a decision that would be a better fit for you going forward.

Karin Nelson: 24:00

Yeah, I love that. I love that advice of just really giving yourself grace and recognizing. I think it's true, I think we do. You know, we only know what we know right, and so the information that we have at hand is what is going to inform our decisions moving forward. And with this information that you have kind of laid out, these five steps of what you want to go into looking for a lawyer, that is just going to offer you some more pieces of information that will help you make a more informed decision for yourself.

Lauren Fair: 24:37

I hope so, Karin. That's what I want for everybody I absolutely, I love helping them make the right choice for them.

Karin Nelson: 24:44

Yeah, I absolutely think so, and I love that you, in the position that you're in as a family law attorney, as a divorce coach, mediator, as a life coach you have so much knowledge and wisdom and I love that you are just in the corner of helping. You know these women make the most informed, best decision for them in the best possible way, and the only way to do that is, you know, what we've just said is having as much information as possible at your fingertips.

Lauren Fair: 25:16

Yeah, I mean this process is hard enough, as it is right, like this transition, all of the changes and everything is stressful enough If we can avoid the wrong people on the team one less stressor.

Karin Nelson: 25:29

One less. I love it. It's so true. Well, lauren, this has been incredible. I just love having you on the podcast. I can't wait to invite you back again. I hope that you'll say, yes, you're so sweet. But can you please tell my audience where they can find you if they want more information about working with you?

Lauren Fair: 25:49

Sure yeah, you can visit my website at laurenfaircoachingcom and you can find me on Instagram at laurenfaircoaching.

Karin Nelson: 25:57

I love it. Is there anything else that you want to leave the audience with today, of just a little negative advice that you want to leave them with today before we jump off?

Lauren Fair: 26:09

I just want them to know that they can navigate this process confidently and sensibly, and any fears that they might be having around not knowing what the right next step is is just totally normal and something that they absolutely can work through if they want to, because I just hear from so many women things like oh I'm so sorry, I just I don't know. I haven't done this before. I just don't really know. I and you know, it's just so how we're conditioned. Right, it's like we have to apologize for not knowing all the things about something that we've never done before and really had no desire to do. Yeah, but we're doing it now because now you know this is what we need to do in order to get where we want to be, and so you know you're not supposed to know all the things. And just because you don't now doesn't mean that you can't and that you really have more power to influence the trajectory of this process than you think you do.

Karin Nelson: 27:30

I love that. That is incredible, incredible insight. You love that. Thank you, karen. All right, lauren. Thank you so much for being here and I can't wait until our next episode. You're amazing, thank you. Thank you Bye. Hi friend, I'm so glad you're here and thanks for listening. I wanted to let you know that if you're wanting more, a way to make deeper, more lasting change, then working one-on-one with me as your coach may be exactly what you need. Together, we'll take everything you're learning in the podcast and implement it in your life, with weekly coaching, real life practice and practical guidance. To learn more about how to work with me one-on-one, go to KarinNelsonCoaching dot com. That's wwwkarin N-E-L-S-O-N. Coaching dot com. 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. Thank you.




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