Donna Stepp Law Group Monroe NC

BOUTIQUE LAW FIRM SPECIALIZING IN FAMILY LAW MATTERS

SERVING UNION COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA AND SURROUNDING AREAS

 

Why Should I Hire You To Represent Me?

 

Why should I hire you to represent me?

I have practiced law for over 20 years now, with an emphasis on Family Law for the majority of that time.  When asked by friends, colleagues, and potential clients why I chose family law as my area of practice, I have to admit to anyone that asks, quite simply:  I did not choose Family Law, it chose me!

Silly, I know.  But it is true.  I began my legal career years ago as an Assistant District Attorney, traveling a 5 county area for nearly a 5 year period, prosecuting everything from the routine traffic violations to high profile capital murder cases. As a prosecutor, I spent every day in the courtroom, dealing with the public, judges, and juries, and gained invaluable experience for which I will always be grateful.  Knowing that I did not want to be a career prosecutor, I left that phase of my professional life behind to "hang out my own shingle," so to speak. 

Beginning in 1998, I opened my first law office.  Needing business, I handled almost any case that walked in my door.  Criminal defense work was easy for me, as it was simply the opposite side of what I had done for the previous 5 years. But in a short few months, it was not the practice of criminal law that was taking up most of my time. Back then, Union County had a lot fewer attorneys, and very few female attorneys, and I was the newest and youngest one.  At the time, there were very few attorneys dedicating their practice area to serving the citizens of Union County with their family law needs, so out of sheer necessity, I became one of them. 

All these years later, I am still one of them.  Sadly for me, no longer the YOUNGEST, but still one of them! For more years than I care to admit, I have spent all of my days figuring out the best way to help each client with his and her particular and unique needs. 

My relationship with a client begins with a consultation, the first appointment where the client comes in for an initial meeting.  Sometimes, the client has yet to separate and is simply gathering information "just in case" the time comes.  Other times, the client is already in the midst of their divorce battle, dissatisfied with their past attorney or with the process, and is looking for new representation.  No matter in what stage the client comes to see me for consultation, there is almost always a common question that arises:

"Why are you the attorney for me?"  Or, "Why should I hire you?"  Or, "Are you worth what you cost?"...... You get the gist.  My answer is always the same.  "Only you (the client) can decide who the best attorney is for you."  While seemingly not helpful upon first glance, what I mean (in more detail) is that only you can decide, based upon all of the relevant factors, who the best attorney is to represent you.  

I suggest the following few relevant factors to consider when trying to decide "who is the best attorney"  for you:

1.  What Kind of Experience Does the Attorney Have?

Hire an attorney with experience and expertise in the area of the law you need help with.  Do not hire a family law practitioner to help with a business dispute.  Likewise, do not hire a criminal lawyer to handle your custody case.  Hire someone with experience handling family law cases in your area; someone who knows the judges, knows what the judges expect, and knows the other attorneys in the area and how they typically handle their cases. Knowledge and experience is power, and this will give you an advantage. 

2. What Kind of Reputation Does the Attorney Have?

I consider myself very blessed, as word of mouth in Union County continues, to date, to bring me most of my clients.  But if you do not know anyone to ask for a referral, or if you just want to do your own research, get on the internet; look on the attorney websites out there, and see what other attorneys and clients have to say about the lawyers you are considering.  Outside of the firm websites themselves, there are other websites that will allow you to read Attorney Endorsements and Client Testimonials about the lawyers, so you can see for yourself what others have to say about a particular lawyer.  The best way to check out an attorney and the attorney's reputation than to read what former clients have to say. 

3. How Much Does the Attorney Charge?

Most all family law attorneys charge an initial consultation fee.  The average range in Union County currently falls between $200 and $450 for the consultation appointment.  During the consultation, ask questions about the attorney's rates.  You should expect to receive information on the attorney's hourly rate and standard retainers, and you should ask questions about how this works.  Upon employment of the attorney, you should receive a written employment agreement outlining the retainer, hourly rate, and manner of billing. Not all attorneys charge the same retainer or hourly rate, as the retainers and rates are directly related to the experience and expertise of each attorney. 

4. Are You Comfortable With the Attorney:

The consultation appointment is not only a time to ask questions and gather information.  More importantly, it is your opportunity to decide whether you are comfortable with the attorney.  I tell my clients every day that nothing I do will make them completely happy, and that complete happiness during a family law case is a fantasy.  No one ever gets everything they want.  No one will come out of a divorce case completely satisfied.  My job as a family law attorney is to offer advice and guidance in a very difficult time, no matter what the circumstances, and to advocate for my client to the best of my ability.  If you, the client, do not feel at ease with and confident in the attorney looking across the desk from you during the initial consultation, you likely never will, so keep looking!  Finding an attorney with whom you are comfortable to help you navigate through the most trying time of your life is not only critical, choosing the right attorney to represent you may just be the most important decision you every make. 

So, ask YOURSELF this question when considering hiring a particular attorney: "Why should I hire THIS attorney to represent me?"  If you know the answer to the question, you ARE hiring the right attorney!