Even under the best of circumstances divorce is a complicated process. When one's lawyer is deceitful, or incompetent, or both, it becomes impossible.
A number of Florida residents learn this the hard way. At times, they're able to get justice. Earlier this month, the Florida Record reported on an attorney who was disbarred after failing -- and failing grossly -- to properly represent his clients in a range of family law matters.
Simply put, the lawyer had a tendency to 'take the money and run.' Between February 2015 and November 2015, he collected thousands of dollars in fees and provided no services in return. After accepting nearly $2,000 for a divorce case, for example, the attorney "failed to respond to his clients for months." In a custody matter, he took his "meetings [with the client] as an opportunity to discuss his personal life rather than the client's divorce proceedings" and made no progress in the legal proceedings.
The question, then, is how an individual entering the divorce process can be certain his or her attorney is qualified and trustworthy.
Choosing the right lawyer
In this regard, the internet is your friend. Of course, this isn't so surprising--in its current iteration, it's easy to find credible reviews for a wide range of service-providers, including legal professionals. Likewise, an active presence on social media and similar outlets usually hints at an attorney's attentiveness to his or her duties and commitment to the job.
There are other factors to consider as well. You likely want to work with an attorney who's nearby; as such, learning how long a lawyer has practiced in your area can be an important indication of his or her involvement in the community. Those who have stayed in the same place for a decade or more have probably established a good reputation and tend to serve the interests of their clients.
In family law considerations, it's also crucial to work with a lawyer who's committed to the field of practice. Many law firms are multi-disciplinary, offering representation in matters of criminal defense, bankruptcy, family law, real estate, and any number of other concerns. Yet family law is a particularly nuanced area of the legal profession. The laws are often changing, and matters are unusually personal in nature. Better outcomes are often linked to lawyers who have dedicated themselves to the practice.
Make an informed decision
At times, the Florida Supreme Court will intervene and disbar an attorney. But this occurs in only the most heinous of circumstances. Many lawyers are less obviously inadequate, and simply fail to obtain positive legal outcomes - even when they're trying their hardest.
As such, it is important for individuals to be smart by being wary, and make sure they find a lawyer who is a comfortable, reliable fit.