Tracy M. Krall: Be wary of the old cliché, Jack of all trades, master of none. Nowadays, each area of practice is so specialized with its ever-changing laws, rules, and nuances that you really need to hire an attorney proficient in one area of practice versus the general practitioner of yesteryear.
How can a potential client be best prepared for their first meeting with you?
If you are seeing a family law attorney you are most likely in emotional strife and that is understandable; however please know that family law attorneys are just that – attorneys- we are not counselors and what we are looking for are relevant facts about your assets, debts and child rearing. Bringing a list of your assets and debts and approximates values or balances is a tremendous help at a first meeting.
What type of questions should a client ask of a potential attorney?
Ask the lawyer what kind of litigation style he or she has. I am not an “aggressive” attorney, as I take the approach that you get more flies with honey but there are some clients looking for aggressive (or at least what they consider to be aggressive) and that would not be a good attorney/client fit. You should actually like your attorney’s personality! Of course, ask basic questions about how long the process should take, what is the attorney’s hourly rate, how long does it take for the attorney to return emails/phone calls.
What type of questions do you ask your potential client during the first meeting?
First, I ask what kind of representation they are looking for: aggressive, settlement-oriented, more passive. Then I obtain the general information regarding assets and debts. I will also roughly calculate child support or estimate a spousal maintenance award. Be leery of an attorney who is not willing to give you this kind of information at the first consultation without signing a fee agreement because that attorney is most likely considering the first meeting simply a sales pitch.
What do you see as being the most common fight of high-conflict couples?
One of grayest areas we have in Arizona is spousal maintenance (a fancy term for alimony) and it is always a bone of contention.
What advice would you give clients to get a divorce with the least possible conflict and pain for all of those involved?
Choose your battles and be mindful of your budget. High conflict translates into high-dollar litigation. Identify the issue or issues that mean the most to you and be ready to let the other ones go.
What advice would you give a woman who states she has a physically abusive spouse?
Seek support from local organizations or support groups or women’s shelters to manage the emotions you are going through and by all means, remove yourself and children if you have them from the situation. I would also talk to the woman about possibly obtaining an order of protection if she fears for her safety.
How do you help a client determine what she should fight for and what she should let go of?
Personal property is never a fight that should be fought unless we are dealing with a Picasso collection or something of tremendous value. Property can be replaced and money can be earned in the future but if you children are truly endangered then that should be the focus.
What is your view on mediation, do you recommend it and can you explain what it is?
Mediation is when you or your spouse use a neutral third party to assist you in coming to an agreement outside of court. Generally, but not always, mediation does not involve lawyers. I believe that mediation is a wonderful option. Especially if the parties are not too too far apart on the various issues of the case. In cases where you and your spouse are diametrically opposed mediation may not be fruitful. It may just delay the inevitable – litigation.
What is the best divorce advice you have to offer women who are just beginning this journey?
This is a confusing time but there IS light at the end of the tunnel. You will eventually recoup your emotional and financial loss and move on to a happier life.
Tracy M. Krall
2224 West Northern Avenue, Suite D-270, Phoenix, AZ 85021
Years in Practice: 17
“I enjoy practicing family law. On the weekends I am a docent volunteer at the Arizona Humane Society. I love introducing homeless animals to potential adopters in an effort to find them their forever home!”