This is the last in my line of posts responding to the questions posed by Carla Schiff Donnelly in her article about hiring the right divorce lawyer. There, she poses several questions that a person should ask a divorce lawyer in the initial interview. Here is my answer to questions #7: 

  • Who in your firm will work on my case and how much will I pay for their time? 

Our firm operates on a team basis – when you hire one of us, you get all of us. Michelle May O’Neil leads the team.  She is a 21-year veteran family law specialist, well known for her ability to put together effective strategies in complex cases. 

Katie Lewis, an 8-year law graduate of what is now Texas A&M School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan School of Law), is board certified in Texas family law and was named to the 2013 Texas Super Lawyers list in family law.  She is one of the youngest lawyers to make this list. Katie focuses on the litigation side of the law firm’s practice. 

Ashley Bowline Russell focuses on the appellate side of the O’Neil & Attorneys practice, where she is responsible for most of the legal research and brief writing in all cases at both the trial and appellate levels. 

The firm has two outstanding paralegals.  Christina, our senior paralegal, has worked for Ms. O’Neil for 14 years, and receives compliments regularly from clients for her attentiveness and compassion.  Sandra received her board certification as a Texas family law paralegal and is well-known for her attentiveness to detail. Clara is our paralegal-in-training who assists in uncontested divorce cases and hearing/trial preparation on all cases. 

The attorneys and paralegals each bill at different hourly rates, based on their level of experience. 

Our team is rounded out by Robin, our firm’s administrator and new client coordinator, and Christopher our receptionist and file clerk. Neither Robin nor Christopher’s time is billed to the clients. 

See my answer to question #1 How long have you practiced family law? And question #2 What is your approach to a new case? And question #3 What percentage of cases do you settle? And question #4 What is your approach to settling a case? And questions 5, 6 and 8 What retainer do you require up front? Is any unused portion of the retainer refundable? How often will I receive an accounting of my retainer?

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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.