July 29, 2014

Discouraged by Litigation

Categories: Collaborative LawDivorce

I am discouraged. I am a relatively new lawyer, and I’m suffering from a kind of “Can’t We All Just Get Along” syndrome. I have handled several dissolution cases at this point in my short career, and none of them, unfortunately, has been a collaborative case. And in every case, there has come a point at which I want to shake my client and ask him (most of my clients have been men) what he thinks he’s doing, why he’s acting the way he is, what he imagines he’s accomplishing by being so (pick one): (a) paranoid; (b) childish; (c) cold; (d) myopic; (e) vindictive; or (f) clueless. In litigation mode, I feel railroaded by the ethical command to be a zealous advocate into being someone I don’t like. I imagine that things would be different in a collaborative case, that I could be an agent for bringing people together (as much as one can when representing a party in a divorce action) rather than wedging people apart. To be sure, one is still a zealous advocate in a collaborative case, but the commitment is different. The commitment in litigation is to winning, and it’s rare to find oneself in a situation where interest-based negotiation overcomes position-based bargaining. Maybe I’m just too innocent and untested to realize that collaborative representation isn’t always a bed of roses either. But suffice it to say that I am very much looking forward to my first collaborative case.


Joshua Gitelson comes to the practice of law via a first career in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, as a film editor and writer for motion pictures and television. The son of a lawyer on the one hand and a clinical psychologist on the other, Josh has gravitated toward family law as an amalgam of these two “family businesses.” His parents’ amicable divorce inspired him to help others through the divorce process with as little rancor and conflict as possible. As a result, Josh has embraced the collaborative divorce model as a technique to complement his work on divorce in the traditional litigation mode. Learn more at https://www.lindawray.com/CM/AttorneyBios/JoshuaGitelson.asp.

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