Our prior post entitled How to choose the right Dallas divorce lawyer reviewed the first three points of the article written by Carla Schiff Donnelly from the Huffington Post. Her final three points address the questions you should ask a potential divorce lawyer before hiring and the questions you should ask yourself. Here, I will review the questions Donnelly poses. Then, in a future post, I will endeavor to answer the questions Donnelly advises be asked.

3. Ask questions of the attorney at the initial consultation.

Donnelly advises you to ask the following questions of the divorce lawyer being interviewed:

• How long have you practiced family law?
• What is your approach to a new case?
• What percentage of cases do you settle?
• What is your approach to settling a case?
• What retainer do you require up front?
• Is any unused portion of the retainer refundable?
• Who in your firm will work on my case and how much will I pay for their time?
• How often will I receive an accounting of my retainer?

4. Take inventory after the meeting regarding your feelings regarding the lawyer interviewed.

• Did you feel comfortable opening up to this attorney?
• Did you feel intimidated by him?
• Was she a good listener, or did they spend the entire time singing their own praises?
• Did you feel as though this attorney would take a practical approach to your case?
• Did she tell you anything you did not want to hear? This is a good thing because the attorney’s job is to tell you what to realistically expect from the process. Unrealistic expectations serve no reasonable purpose.

5. Trust your gut – if it doesn’t not seem right, it probably isn’t.

Hire the attorney that you connect with. You need to feel comfortable with your lawyer. If he or she doesn’t give you “warm fuzzies” when you first interview them, hire a different lawyer. There’s nothing wrong with that. We just don’t connect with everyone.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.