While not an exhaustive list, experience has shown that the best Oregon divorce lawyers consistently display a handful of traits. These are the hallmarks that tend to create the client's best knowledge and are most likely to lead the client to their goals. It is common for people to want a "pitbull" or some other cliched characterization of a lawyer to represent them. However, these are the traits that, in practice, are the most likely to obtain positive results.
- Experience. The best Portland, Oregon divorce lawyers are going to have plenty of experience. Knowledge is not something that can be cut short. Having handled at least dozens, and hopefully, hundreds of cases lead to a level of familiarity with Oregon family law that provides a sense of what a reasonable outcome is with a particular fact pattern. Underlying this sense is the trial and court experience, having seen what judges tend to do with specific fact patterns. The best Oregon divorce attorneys tend to use this experience to predict a range of possible outcomes, focusing your attention on the most likely while making you aware of the lesser possibilities.
- No Guarantees. The Top Oregon divorce attorneys will not guarantee a particular outcome in your case. If there is one thing that experience in divorce litigation should teach any attorney, no result is assured. Sometimes even the most seemingly "clear" cases don't turn out as expected, and even issues that seem to have poor facts turn out better than hoped. Given the subjective nature of families and their structures, assets, debts, and goals, the outcome is never clear until a judge decides the outcome. If an attorney guarantees a result, this should be a red flag. As discussed earlier, the best Portland, Oregon divorce attorneys will generally present a range of outcomes, not a guarantee.
- Focused on client goals. Perhaps one of the most overlooked traits of the top Oregon divorce and family lawyer is that they listen carefully to clients' goals, not just focusing what they believe to be best for you. Your lawyer should be on your side. This means that they should explain your risks and work towards your best outcome. However, sometimes just because obtaining a particular result is possible, it's not what a client wants. For instance, it might be that a client is an excellent candidate to receive a large amount of spousal support, but does not want to pursue it. The lawyer should explain the risks of not pursuing that and listen to why the client does not wish to pursue it. Maybe the client has other assets available to them, and they think that the money issue would be damaging to the family relationship. Perhaps there is value to the client in reducing familial conflict. The best Oregon divorce lawyer will listen to your goals and pursue those, not their own.
- Keeping you informed. Top divorce lawyers are going to keep you informed. This is your case, your life, your family. Even if a lawyer is working hard behind the scenes, that doesn't help relieve the anxiety you may feel in the meantime. A lawyer should keep you informed about correspondence and discussions they are having with opposing counsel and make sure that you are getting copies of documents filed with the court. Even emails that are sent between attorneys should make their way into your file. If you aren't staying informed, you similarly aren't able to provide the attorney with relevant thoughts or information that might shape the case for your goals.
- Clear Billing. One of the most challenging issues for any attorney/client relationship is that of money. It's no secret that divorces can be expensive, and issues of attorney fees and costs can drive a wedge between an otherwise productive relationship between lawyer and client. The top Oregon divorce lawyers are going to be transparent with their billing. An explicit fee agreement upfront should outline how time and expenses will be billed. Regular statements and invoices to the client should itemize work performed to understand how their retainer or other payments are being used.
- Honesty. The best Portland family law attorneys will always be honest about your case. Lawyers usually went into law school with the idea that they wanted to help people. They are natural problem solvers. As a result, it's sometimes difficult to admit to themselves or their clients that they cannot fix a situation. Sometimes clients have poor cases. The facts are insufficient. The client is unlikely to get the outcome they would like. The top family law and divorce lawyer will level with the client and provide problematic information upfront. Providing an honest assessment of the case is most critical upfront, so a client is not led to spending thousands of hard-earned dollars to pursue an improbable outcome.
- Organization. Organization is a hallmark of the most successful Oregon divorce lawyers. Keeping client files complete with all correspondence, pleadings, and discovery is a surprisingly work-intensive process. However, the best Oregon divorce lawyers develop systems to not only organize but also maintain accessibility to all parts of your case file. Organization from the start makes it likely that negotiations or trial, if necessary, are also organized. That necessary evidence makes its way in front of a judge in a way that can assist your case. Lost items help nobody.