Jennifer Abrams is the founder of The Abrams and Mayo Law Firm and a board certified divorce attorney based in Las Vegas, Nevada. With a passion for the law, Jennifer chose her career path early on in her education. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Business Administration: Accounting Theory and Practice from California State University and eventually went on to pursue a law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. With a clear career trajectory focused on complex financial matters, she passed the CPA examination, which is considered one of the most challenging credentialing examinations. Her understanding of complex financial procedures and systems has proven invaluable in representing high net-worth divorce clients.
What should litigants look for when choosing a divorce lawyer?
There are all types of divorce matters. I exclusively handle complex and high-asset cases so my answers reflect that section of the legal landscape. First, I suggest starting with credentials. Seek out a lawyer who is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist if your state bar provides attorneys with such an accreditation. Additionally, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) indicates an even more skilled and experienced divorce lawyer. These are two of the hardest credentials for an attorney to obtain. Unlike bar association memberships (which only require a short application and a fee), a significant amount of trial litigation experience, Continuing Legal Education, and passing a rigorous exam is required to become a Board Certified Family Law Specialist. Once an attorney obtains state bar certification, he or she can apply for Fellowship in the AAML, which has an even more stringent and rigorous application process and examination.
It is a good idea to get multiple opinions. Once you define a group of qualified divorce lawyers suited to your case, I would suggest calling each office for a consultation. Then, after careful consideration, select the divorce lawyer who provides you with leadership and guidance, and whose style is compatible with yours. You should feel comfortable speaking with your attorney openly. This is a key factor because divorce matters often contain sensitive personal issues and your attorney must know all the case facts to properly represent you. Nothing blows-up a divorce case faster than your attorney being blind-sided by the opposing counsel because you were not forthcoming with relevant personal (and sometimes embarrassing) information. You should trust that your attorney has your best interests in mind, and takes the time to address your concerns and answer your questions. You should also be provided consistent communication so you are kept apprised as to what is happening in your case and can be involved in the decision-making process.
Do you accept every potential client who contacts you?
When a potential client calls our office, we first ask for the names of both parties so we can check for conflicts. While it does not happen every day, it is not uncommon for both spouses in a divorce matter to separately contact our office. So if Spouse A calls for a divorce consultation and I meet with Spouse A, and then a few days later Spouse B calls, I cannot speak with Spouse B. In fact, we take our duty of confidentiality so seriously that we would not even let Spouse B know that Spouse A sought a consultation for divorce. Under those circumstances, we simply would not return Spouse B’s call at all.
If there is no conflict, I personally return the call or, if I am unable to do so promptly, I ask one of my partners to return the call. The goal is to determine the needs of the caller and whether or not a consultation with our firm would be appropriate. I never want to schedule someone for a consultation and take their time or mine, only to learn that they are in the wrong jurisdiction or that the potential client does not require the high-powered legal representation we provide. In those instances, I refer the potential client to other law firms better suited for their case.
What do you expect from your clients?
Just like every lawyer is not right for every client, the reverse is true as well. At our law firm, one attorney and one paralegal are generally assigned to each case, though certain high net-worth divorce matters may require more attorneys and staff. Regardless, I expect the client to be a part of the team – to provide information when requested, participate in strategizing and decision-making, respond to emails and calls, and to follow instructions. If a client does not fully participate in achieving the best outcome for their case, then we are probably not a good match.
What is your general style and approach?
First, I want to know as much as possible about the client’s current situation, the history of their marital experiences, and their case goals. This occurs in a formal consultation which lasts approximately two hours. Sometimes potential clients are so overwhelmed when they come to a consultation, they haven’t fully defined their goals. I guide clients to see the situation realistically and make sound decisions. We analyze options and cost vs. benefit, taking into consideration not only financial issues, but the toll that litigation can take on the client, their children, or other members of the family. Once I have a complete understanding, I look for the most efficient and strategically beneficial approaches. Then I discuss each aspect with the client, and together we create a customized plan going forward.
Do you have any advice for those entering the legal profession?
My advice is to choose an area of law that most interests you and where you think you can have the greatest impact for your clients. There are numerous general areas of law, and within each, legal specialties. Specialty practices are the most rewarding, both professionally and financially. When a client has a serious legal matter with significant risks, they usually choose a specialist attorney, so if you are a board certified specialist, you will never be looking for clients. Instead, it is the clients who will seek you out. It’s also important to work hard and be patient. No attorney achieves an expert specialist designation overnight. It requires years of experience, a stellar reputation in your local legal community, and a consistent track record of success.