Friday, October 26, 2007

Contentious divorces - Part 4 - More about attorneys

Indiana Family Law Blog posted Research confirms suspicions which linked to The Divorce Law Journal has a post, What Family Lawyers are Really Doing When They Negotiate, highlighting research (What Family Lawyers are Really Doing When They Negotiate) that family lawyers appear more adversarial than problem-solving. I know that probably sounds like a daisy chain but let's give credit where it is due. The Divorce Law Journal emphasizes mediation and the Indiana Family Law Blog tends away from adversarial family law. Both are very good blogs and I suggest that you subscribe to their e-mail or to their RSS feeds.

My emphasis here has been more wide-ranging. I prefer settling the cases that can be settled and fight only where it is necessary. Those attorneys who want to take no prisoners do not serve every client well.

In my experience, most attorneys who treat family law in this way stop practicing family law or attract only those clients who want to beat up their clients via the judicial system. This latter type then forces the lawyers facing them into a full wartime mode. Costs increase, stress levels go over the top, and the results for the more warlike depend on the skill and nerve of the attorney and client opposing them. Those cases where I have opposing counsel who will not negotiate, I will win when my client remains reasonable.

Why is this? Well, there is another party to these proceedings besides lawyers and clients - the judges. Judges know when a lawyer has a good case and when the bullying tactics merely cover the absence of a good case. An over the top performance by the attorney might make the client think he is getting good value for his/her dollar. After all, aren't lawyers supposed to be argumentative, take-no-prisoners jerks? Answer that question where the judge enters an order for the other side. Answer that question again after the appellate court upholds the trial court.

I wrote these last three paragraphs both to educate you potential clients out there and to explain a bit of my own views. I expected to vehemently disagree with What Family Lawyers are Really Doing When They Negotiate as I think most attorneys try to solve problems. If it come to me from another source, I doubt I would have read the original article. I am working on it now (I do have work) and this passage caught my eye:

...It is perhaps heartening to see the perceived effectiveness of lawyers drop rather dramatically as the level of adversarial behavior rises. While there are dramatic differences between ethical and unethical adversarial behavior, we should still note that the ethical adversarial have several strong negative adjectives attributed to them (such as arrogant, egotistical, and irritating) and are significantly less effective than cautious problem-solvers.....
I will read it all. I am at page 7 and I think I can recommend it to any lawyers who venture in here and to those clients who want to learn more about lawyers.

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