Believe it or not, most divorce lawyers are very good people. I know that seems hard to believe, based on the negative opinions that much of the public has about lawyers; and about divorce. But it’s true.
Divorce has never been the most lucrative area of law, and it really can be emotionally draining, so most of the lawyers who choose to work in this area have done so because they care about families. And most of them truly do try to help make a positive difference.
This may seem odd coming from someone who has spent most of his career keeping people out of divorce court and, to a degree, away from lawyers. In fact, I do believe that family law issues can be resolved much better when we get as far away from the court as possible, but that is not because judges and lawyers are bad people; the courtroom just isn’t a place designed for family problems.
At least not yet. There are people out there with great visionary ideas so that we may one day see a courtroom that is truly designed to help families heal. We seem to be heading in that direction but there is a long way to go. Until that happens, the courtroom can still have a tendency to polarize families in unexpected ways.
Today, there are many ways to resolve family issues; you can mediate, collaborate, litigate, agitate or even just vegetate. There are plenty of good lawyers working in all of these issues. Even litigation, the last resort of the family law food chain, has drawn many good people. To use a medical analogy, litigation is the surgery of the divorce world; something to use when all else has failed. But if it does happen, you still need a good surgeon; not just one that can cut straight but one that can minimize the collateral damage; and that can be the toughest part.
So, what is the true measure of a great family law attorney? In my humble opinion it is an attorney who will give you an honest answer even if your best process option does not fall within their particular method of practice. It’s the collaborator who will tell you when you truly need to litigate or the litigator who will let you know when to collaborate. Even more, it is the lawyer who will tell you that they just don’t know about a particular option. The attorney who will admit that he or she just doesn’t really have much knowledge about a particular area is doing you a great service. The Collaborator who will admit that he has never been in the courtroom much and, therefore, cannot speak from experience about what goes on there, is upholding his or her solemn duty. Similarly, the litigator who admits that most of what they know about Collaborative Law is hearsay and suggests you go to a competent and experienced Collaborative attorney to have your questions answered about that process.
This blog is written on the Collaborative Law website, so naturally I am going to end by suggesting you contact a Collaborative Professional about Collaborative Practice. See www.collaborativelaw.org. or www.divorcechoice.com. But don’t just settle for that. Make sure that the person who gives you advice provides you with honest answers about all process choices. And if they don’t have the answer, or if they don’t have an experience in an area, make sure they tell you that. You deserve that. There is too much at stake for you to simply be sold whatever some attorney happens to be selling.