A good lawyer is a necessary part of a successful adoption. Some people like to price shop. But, price is not a good measure of the value of professional services.
I know that some people will choose a real estate closing attorney based solely on a $50 difference in price. That is unfortunate. I hope they are happy with their bargain.
Like I tell prospective clients, I have been practicing law for 30 years. I don’t handle real estate matters, but I could probably manage the loan closing for my house and save a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, if I did it wrong, my wife would be really unhappy and so would I.
So, I pay someone with experience that I can count on to handle the closing on my house for me because they can do it better than I can, whatever the price. I would not ask that same lawyer to help me with an adoption, because that is not what he does. Price would not matter.
It is hard to quantify the value of experience and good service, but you certainly know it when you see it. There are some of the questions that you can ask to a take a measure of a lawyer’s adoption experience and client service:
- Do you provide legal services in other areas of law besides adoption?
- What percentage of your total practice is devoted to adoption?
- How long have been providing adoption legal services?
- How many non-relative adoptions have you completed? How many this year?
- How many interstate placements have you participated in in the past year?
- How many active adoption cases do you have now?
- How do you bill?
- Do you have a written contract?
- Is your fee an hourly rate?
- Do you charge a flat fee?
- What is the average cost of the adoptions you have handled?
- Do you require a retainer? If so, how much? Is it refundable?
- Do you require a deposit in advance?
- What happens to my retainer fee if the birth mother changes her mind?
- Will I received a monthly statement detailing the work that was done?
- What services do you provide?
- What is included in your services and what is not included? Are there services that we can expect to need that are not included or are extra?
- Will you actively assist me in finding an adoption situation as well as handle the necessary legal work?
- What other adoption professionals will I need and how do we find and integrate them into our adoption plan?
- If I need services in a state in which you are not licensed, do you have contacts with experienced adoption professionals in other states?
- What forms of communication do you utilize?
- How and when would you be available to us?
- When you are away from the office, is another knowledgeable person available?
- Will I be provided copies of all of the paper work? How will I have access to my file?
- Will I receive updates on the progress of my case? How often and by what method(s)?
- What methods do you utilize to ensure that our information and communications will be confidential and secure?
- Representative Clients
- Do you have recent or current clients that can provide a reference?
- Do you regularly represent adoption agencies and their clients?