When you need to get a second opinion

When we face a major medical procedure, we accept the fact that it’s wise to get a second opinion. The same is true in divorce.

If you are unsure that the advice you are receiving from your lawyer is correct, it’s wise to get a second opinion. There is a difference between getting a second opinion and looking for a lawyer who agrees with your unconventional way of getting a divorce.

Getting a second opinion means being brutally honest with the second lawyer. Consult with someone who has strong family law experience. Bring all the court papers with you to the interview. Tell him what has occurred thus far and why you question the advice you are getting from your current lawyer. Then listen to what the second lawyer has to say. Often, they advise you to follow the advice of your current lawyer.

However, if the second lawyer proposes significant changes in your strategy, consider changing lawyers. You should factor in the cost of switching attorneys. The new lawyer will need to learn your case. They will charge for the time it takes to review your file. So, consider whether there is enough difference in the representation to justify changing lawyers.

Sometimes, your current lawyer may encourage you to get a second opinion, particularly when you are frequently locking horns over the correct approach to take. Your lawyer may want you to get affirmation that their advice is sound. In some cases, your lawyer may actually advise you to change attorneys because you lack trust in his judgment. You should take your current lawyer’s advice and confer with another attorney. You may find a better fit for your style of approaching problem solving or you may be reassured that the advice you are getting will lead to a good outcome.

Changing lawyers needs to occur well before a significant hearing or trial, so that your new attorney has enough time to learn the case and do any additional discovery or arrange mediation or other settlement discussions. Act now, not two weeks before trial.

If your case is not making good progress, ask yourself whether the position you are taking is realistic. Are you “lawyer shopping”— trying to find a lawyer who shares your legal judgment? If your position is not consistent with the law in your state or the philosophy of the judge to whom you are assigned, hiring a series of lawyers probably won’t achieve the outcome you want. You may need to consider that your position is not going to prevail in court no matter who represents you.

You deserve to be satisfied with your attorney’s representation. If you don’t feel confident that you are being well represented, getting another opinion is a wise next step.