In a previous post, I explained the merits of gathering an “adoption team” of trusted and dependable professionals who can help guide you through the steps and ensure a smooth process. One of these professionals should be an experienced adoption attorney, because unnecessary legal hurdles should never come between you and growing your family.
There are many family law firms practicing in your state – how do you know which one to choose? As you search for the right advocate, consider the criteria below to help you narrow the search.
Experience and Knowledge
The lawyer you choose should have experience specifically with the method of adoption you plan to pursue. Often, a law firm’s website will list its practice areas and even the types of adoption they primarily focus on, which can be a great starting point for gathering potential advocates.
After you have identified a few lawyers who frequently work with adoptive parents, reach out to their firms for more information. During your initial conversation, ask about each attorney’s previous cases and level of knowledge with situations similar to yours. You’ll get an even better idea about their qualifications and who might be the best fit for your adoption.
There are many national, regional and local organizations that recognize outstanding attorneys for their legal work and advocacy. Publications such as Super Lawyers and The Legal Intelligencer release annual lists of the top attorneys in each state, region, and/or practice area. Directory websites like Avvo and Martindale Hubbell allow previous clients and peers to post lawyer reviews and star ratings. This type of recognition and feedback can be helpful in validating an attorney’s personality and past legal work.
A Great First Consultation
Nothing is as helpful as sitting down face-to-face with a lawyer to discuss your situation and his or her ability to assist you. During your initial consultation, you and the attorney should go over your needs and goals. You should talk about potential obstacles you may face, as well as his or her ability to help you complete the adoption efficiently and successfully. This meeting can also be an opportunity to discuss the attorney’s fees and the role the firm could have in your adoption.
As you ask questions, raise concerns, and get to know the attorney during the initial consultation, you should feel comfortable and well-informed and supported. Great chemistry from day one is a good indication that you’ll also maintain a great attorney-client relationship in the months to come.
Adopting a child is an exciting moment in a parent’s life. Taking the time to properly vet a few good candidates will help ensure you find a great fit.
Diana Schimmel has dedicated her career to family law. She established Schimmel Family Law in 2013, and after working as a solo practitioner for almost four years, Diana partnered with Melinda Previtera to establish Previtera & Schimmel. In 2017, they merged with another prominent family law firm to become Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, LLC.
Earlier in her career, Diana worked as a child advocate attorney for the Defender Association of Philadelphia in its Child Advocacy Unit. As an active member of the legal community, her outstanding work continues to earn her the recognition of her peers. She has been included in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars List and selected as a Lawyer on the Fast Track by The Legal Intelligencer. Diana has also been named a Top Family Law Attorney by Philadelphia Life Magazine and Best Overall Advocate by the Widener Intensive Trial Advocacy Program. Diana volunteers with the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, The Montgomery Child Advocacy Project and The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research.