Divorce Lawyers Near Me in Columbia Maryland
Google says that about 18,000 people per month in the United States search on the phrase, divorce lawyers near me. That’s a lot of people looking for divorce lawyers near me. And they sense accurately that there is a geographic component to hiring a divorce lawyer. More searchers are now adding a city designation as in, divorce lawyers near me in Columbia, but Google knows where you are anyway. So Google will add the geographic indicator to your search even if you don’t.
So, a lot of people are searching for divorce lawyers near me in Columbia. I’m going to tell you in this article what you need to know about hiring a divorce lawyer, what to avoid and what factors to look for to make your Columbia divorce lawyer hiring process as painless and successful as possible.
What You Need to Avoid in Hiring a Divorce Lawyer Near Me in Columbia
First, let’s look at what to avoid about hiring a divorce lawyer. All divorce is local. Keep it that way. Don’t hire an unqualified, unlicensed, unregulated online divorce mill located out of state or in India. They know little about Maryland law. They are clueless about your local rules of court and local court policies in Columbia. And they know less about safeguarding your legal and economic interests. You will have no recourse to anyone when they screw things up in your case, and they will screw things up.
The nationwide online divorce mills claim that they are experts in divorce law and procedure in all 3000+ counties in the United States. That’s a practical impossibility. If you hire one of the nationwide online divorce mills, it will be the blind leading the blind. You can see this simply by checking the Better Business Bureau complaint pages for any nationwide online divorce mill. Stay away.
Hint: Instead of an online divorce form seller, you want a local licensed divorce lawyer near me in Columbia. S/he has local knowledge of your local divorce court’s rules and practices as well as the laws of Maryland. S/he is also subject to a strongly enforced professional Code of Ethics and requirements for Continuing Legal Education.
And if you think that “divorce lawyers near me in Columbia” will be too expensive, read on. Things are changing in the legal profession, and they are changing to your benefit.
BTW, if you hire an online divorce mill, and they mess up your case and you have to hire a lawyer to fix the problem or just live with the problem for months or years, is that a cheap divorce? I don’t think so. Hiring an online divorce mill is almost always false economy. You try to save a little money and end up having to spend more in the long run.
What You Need to Know About Hiring a Divorce Lawyer Near Me in Columbia
There are now 2 dominant inter-connected trends in the legal industry. You need to be aware of them. These are big deals. They favor you, and you want to understand them in order to take advantage of them:
1. There are way too many lawyers. The glut is serious. According to the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, in 2017, the whole legal profession lost some 1400 jobs while almost 20,000 brand new lawyers have been added – just in 2017. And the ABA has just certified a huge new law school in Texas. And this has been trending for years!! And while a surplus of lawyers has been building up, the demand for legal services, particularly for consumer law services such as divorce, has either been flat or diminishing. Demand has been lagging because of DIY (caused by the Internet) and the overwhelming success in the divorce industry of fraudulent and incompetent online divorce mills (see above).
2.The legal profession is in serious economic decline. Of course, this is connected to the over-supply of lawyers. From 1988 to 2012, the average solo lawyer practitioner’s yearly income, after adjusting for inflation, dropped from $70,747 to $49,130. Read that last sentence again. It’s a game changer. And the reduction in lawyers’ incomes has been the greatest in areas of consumer law, like uncontested divorce, where the Internet has reduced the knowledge gap between lawyers and consumers.
What To Look For in Top Rated Divorce Lawyers Near Me in Columbia
We’re going to look now at factors you want to have in place with the individual Columbia divorce lawyer you hire.
These factors are nothing more than indicators that the divorce lawyer you are looking at has recognized and analyzed the 2 long-term trends listed above and has taken a professional position designed to fight back against those trends.
In other words, you want to hire the divorce lawyer near me in Columbia who understands these trends the best.
You are going to entrust your legal and economic interests to a divorce lawyer near me in Columbia. So you want to make sure that divorce lawyer near me in Columbia is capable of recognizing issues (such as the fact that his or her profession is not doing well) and creating innovative solutions to problems (such as how to position himself or herself professionally to best take advantage of the situation).
This is like a test. You are testing all the divorce lawyers near me in Columbia to see which one is most qualified to handle your case on the basis of his or her level of preparation and competitiveness.
When you find the Columbia divorce lawyer near me who is fighting back the best against those 2 major trends in his or her industry, you have found your divorce lawyer near me in Columbia. That divorce lawyer will be the lawyer you want to look after your legal and economic interests.
In fact, why would you hire a divorce lawyer near me in Columbia to look after your legal and economic interests when s/he doesn’t even look after his or her own economic interests?
So what this all means is that you should look for those local Columbia lawyers who position themselves to stand out from the crowd of local failing lawyers. Look for those who are creative in how they present themselves and position themselves online and in your local community. You want a divorce lawyer who will be as creative, innovative, unique, wise, bold, decisive, aggressive, thoughtful and competitive in finding solutions to protect your legal and economic interests as s/he has been in looking after his or her own professional interests during very tough times. That will be the divorce lawyer near me in Columbia who has passed your test.
Look for the local divorce lawyer near me in Columbia who has the most of the following listed factors in his or her tool box. That’s the Columbia divorce lawyer to hire.
- Online Divorce: There’s nothing wrong with online divorce, only with unqualified and incompetent online divorce form sellers. Look for a lawyer who cuts your costs by using the same wicked-cool software used by the online divorce mills.
- Virtual Divorce Practice: It’s not just the online divorce software. Look for divorce lawyers who talk comfortably about and offer client portals where you can log in and enter your case data yourself in an online divorce interview and also where you can review documents, communications and schedules that pertain to your case online while the lawyer is also looking at them. Look for lawyers who stress the use of email for communications, video conferencing (Skype) and other cloud-based cost-efficiencies.
- Office Location: Look for a lawyer who either works at home or has a storefront/strip mall office in a high traffic area. Don’t hire a lawyer with a fancy office in a big building or in a prestige location such as across the road from the courthouse. That’s too much rent, and guess who pays it. You want a divorce lawyer who either works at home and uses a shared conference location to meet with you, if necessary – see use of video-conferencing above, or a lawyer who uses his storefront office as an owned and controlled billboard to advertise for business, thereby reducing his or her costs of business per case. Some of that cost-reduction should be reflected in your fees.
- Don’t Hire a Divorce Lawyer Who Uses Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: So don’t hire anyone in the top 4 positions or the bottom 3 positions (marked as “Ad”) on page 1 of the Google search results. This is the same principle as the expensive office in a big building. The barrier to success at Pay-Per-Click is not how skilled, creative or experienced you are. It’s how much money you are prepared to throw at Google or Bing. The amount of money that you must bid in order to get to the top 4 positions on the Google or Bing first search engine results page is inevitably bid up progressively so that the lawyer’s cost of doing business per case is so high that his or her profit margins per case are slim. Any upward movement in that volatile bid process can make that divorce lawyer unprofitable. Yes, if the lawyer is in the top 4, s/he’ll get more cases, but all of them at low profit margins and then another lawyer in town will bid that lawyer up again. So now the lawyer needs even more cases at even lower profit margins just to keep bidding. It’s a downward spiral. You don’t want your divorce lawyer thinking about his or her own business failure or impending personal bankruptcy when s/he is handling your case.
- Hire a Divorce Lawyer Near Me in Columbia Who Uses ONLY Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – as a digital marketing tool: It’s more difficult to determine this, but if you search a few times and the divorce lawyer you’re considering doesn’t show up in the top 4 or bottom 3 positions on the search engine result pages, s/he probably uses SEO only, and not PPC. SEO consists of a large number of online marketing tactics and practices that make the lawyer’s website and its content attractive and valuable to potential customers. In the digital marketing world, SEO costs a lot less than PPC. It’s complex, highly competitive (but with no bidding) and takes much more time to develop. It requires more thought and creativity from the divorce lawyer. Success at SEO is much more based on creating high quality content to demonstrate unique solutions to clients’ problems than in ridiculous never-ending PPC bidding wars that the divorce consumer pays for.
- Look for Flat Fees in an Uncontested Divorce, NOT Hourly Rates: Any experienced divorce lawyer knows the amount of work involved in an uncontested case. S/he may be wrong with his or her divorce attorney fees every once in a while, but that’s his or her problem, not yours. The lawyer, not you, should take that risk. Hourly rates are an older traditional way to charge divorce attorney fees. Hourly rates are still valid in complex, high value or contested divorces, but NOT in uncontested cases. You want to know your costs in a simple uncontested divorce up front.
- Look for Unbundled Services: Unbundled (sometimes called limited scope representation) services are the coming thing in consumer law practice. What it means is that technically you act as your own lawyer in the case and use the divorce lawyer near me only to review docs before they are filed, to provide legal advice and answer legal questions and discuss legal tactics with you. So you are using the lawyer only where you need him or her. It’s a smart and cost-effective way to go. No, you won’t be able to pick up the phone and get through to your lawyer any time at $150-200 per hour. So that’s good too. For a flat fee in an unbundled case, you may get 2 phone calls and 4 emails included. You can buy more, but you need to organize your thoughts and group your questions – another good tactic.
- Stay Away From Me-Too Lawyers: Look around to see where divorce lawyers near me show up online. If you can only find a divorce lawyer on Avvo, Findlaw, Justia, LegalZoom or any other free-to-sign-up, me-too lawyer lead-gen platforms, stay away from that lawyer. It doesn’t matter if s/he is on all of those platforms. They cost nothing to join. However, if you see a lawyer ONLY on those platforms, it means s/he has zero creativity, zero aggression, zero savvy and does not “get” the problems facing the legal profession or the ways to fight back against those problems. You don’t want that dead-head anywhere near your case.
- Make a Connection With the Divorce Lawyer Near Me in Columbia: Pick up the phone. Once you’ve got your short list of maybe 3 or 5 divorce lawyers near me in Columbia, call them. Call each a few times. See if they answer the phone consistently during business hours. Who answers? Is it a cold-hearted clinical receptionist just putting in time or is it a warm and welcoming person who seems invested in your situation. See how easy it is to get the lawyer on the phone. Ask questions about your specific case, but don’t ask them all at the same time. Call back again and tell them you’ve already asked questions but that you have more. See if there is any resistance to your asking multiple questions at different times. Follow your gut on this. If you get a bad feeling, move that lawyer down your list.
- 1-800-DIVORCE: We at 1-800-DIVORCE cannot control the fees, practices and policies of our various individual divorce lawyers in the nationwide 1-800-DIVORCE network. Each 1-800-DIVORCE law firm is independently owned and operated. However, lawyers who sign up for our 1-800-DIVORCE service tend to be those who “get” the problem their profession is in and are looking for solutions, which they realize can only come from resolving cases just like yours. These are NOT your grandparents’ divorce lawyers. Just signing up to become the EXCLUSIVE 1-800-DIVORCE lawyer in Columbia is a strong indication to you that s/he may well be the innovative, bold, decisive and competitive divorce lawyer near me that you need to protect your legal and economic interests. 1-800-DIVORCE is a good place to find exactly what you are looking for in hiring a divorce lawyer near me.
Thank you for reading and I hope this article helps you in hiring the best divorce lawyer for YOU.