What makes a great divorce lawyer?

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While having been a divorce and custody lawyer for a number of years, I’m pretty certain that a good number of people while looking for a lawyer, wonder what qualities make for a good divorce or custody lawyer.  I don’t think that I have an all exhaustive list of what differentiates the good from the bad, but I do know what seems to work for me, or better said, what seems to work well for my clients.  So, here are some of the top traits that I’ve been accused of, and perhaps you should seek these traits when considering to hire a divorce or custody lawyer:

1.  Patience, with a fuse

I will generally bend over backwards to figure out a way to settle a case without any sort of protracted litigation.  This saves my clients all kinds of money, but more so, saves me from all sorts of aggravation, lost sleep, and dealing with legal deadlines, of which most lawyers hate.  While I may try and try, there comes a point where I say, “fuck it – you die asshole”  Yes, I will “go postal” at some point, and want to kill your spouse, your ex, or his or her lawyer.  Everyone gets to feel my pain when I’ve reached and crossed that barrier.  Most judges know that my trial will ruin anything resembling a scheduled vacation for months to come.  But fuck it, I tried being nice.

2.  Must hate the law

Weird, right?   I hate the practice of law.  I avoid it.  Sometimes, I will stare at my computer for hours and deploy all sorts of distraction mechanisms before I actually take the time to crunch out a pleading, responsive letter, or otherwise touch a file.  But the thing is, when I do, it’s good.  Very good.  It’s what’s made my name and keeps the clients coming back to me.  I’m not sure, if its the avoidance that makes the work product better, or just that I stay away until my trigger finger just can’t take it anymore, but it works.

3.  Can handle a trial

Most attorneys that I know shy away from trials.  Jesus, I love them.  I prefer them.  So simply, so quick, and its pretty conclusive when it’s done.  No more bickering, no more cry-baby opposing attorneys, no more bullshit.  I’ve been known to take cases with trials about to start, and a couple of years ago, I took on a new client between her first and second day of trial, and I got a better result for her than the Judge said when I first stepped into the case.  I’m pretty sure that when opposing attorneys know you’re comfortable  with trial work, they approach the case differently.

4.  Will scream at you

I’m well known for letting my own clients “have it.”  I hate clients that do dumb things in their divorce or custody case, and I especially dislike clients that do the opposite of what I tell them to do.  You can lose your case without me, but you won’t lose your case with me.  But that requires you to listen, heed, and try your hardest not to be dumb as shit.

5.  Will not negotiate fees

When I work on your case, I try to do to the best that I can (and that’s likely twice as good as anyone else).  And if you’ve taken the minute to read everything above, you’ll know that it took a lot on my end, just to start working on whatever in your file.  So, if you call me and want to negotiate your invoice, I will likely jump through the phone and kick you in the face.  It’s really that simple.  Joke lawyers negotiate their fees.  They under value what they do, because they know they could have done better.

6.  Knows how to take a break

Most decent divorce lawyers are always at the their water-front cabin, or on their boat in Florida, or in some place that gets them the fuck away from divorce madness.  I’m gone, and I’m not even going to say where in this blog.  Just know that while I’m away, I’m thinking about my cases, doing my emails and motions, and taking calls.  But I need my special place away to keep my batteries charged.  Those batteries power the ass kicking machine that I use in Court.  Let’s not fuck with how I keep energized, okay?

7.  Wants motions to make their eyes bleed

When I draft motions, I don’t care that they’re offensive.  I don’t care, if I’ve offended the right, left, values or whatever.  I want to drive my point across to the Judge and I want everyone to know that while I really didn’t want to file a motion (see above, where I will do my best to get the issue to settle), but because I had to take it to the next level, I’m coming in screaming, cussing, and in a general disposition of being pissed off.

8.  Doesn’t litigate everything

I don’t take on anything that walks in the door.  If you’re crazy, or your agenda is less about your kids and more about being evil, I will simply tell you to get the fuck out of my life.  I’m all about kids, making it better for them, and you sure as hell better sell me that whatever we are about to do, is good for the kids.  If you’re an asshole and want to fight for custody because it’s for sport, and you have the funds to do it, then you can take those funds and wipe your ass.  I’m guilty for having nearly always personalizing cases.  Bad for me (stress), but good for client.  So, I have to be careful what gets close to my heart.

9.  Doesn’t represent pussies

I can’t represent weak people.  Weak people fold, when litigation surfaces.  While I try the settlement approach, sometimes litigation happens, and I need my foxhole buddy (my client) to be ready for battle.  If I feel that you’ll fold easily, or that you’ll run and scream for cover when the bullets fly, I will politely tell you to go fuck yourself.  Don’t hire this lawyer, unless you’re ready to take it to the end, no matter the end.

10. Military Experience

Now, I’m not saying that every lawyer with military experience, will be what you want.  But, it’s more likely that they will be a better fit for a divorce or custody case.  You’ll need someone with a strong spine, thick skin, and the unwillingness to run and hide.  While there are always exceptions, a veteran, will almost assure you that you’re in good hands.

All said, I wish you well in seeking out your attorney.  But, careful in the selection process.  Not all lawyers are created equal.

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