One of the reasons many lawyers get a bad rap is the sense that they can’t be trusted. You may think they are being nice to you, perhaps even showing some interest in you, but when you turn around they proceed to stab you in the back.
I’ll freely admit that I have been burned by other attorneys that I thought I trusted, but time and experience have taught me to be careful when I’m talking to other attorneys about a case. An experience I had this week illustrates what I am talking about. I was hired by a client who had received a very nasty letter from another attorney. I called that attorney to try and get a sense of what their client wanted. I was trying to “grease the wheels” that would eventually help lead to an amicable settlement. The attorney seemed very nice and offered that they were open to settlement negotiations, without getting the courts involved right away.
Based on this information, the client hired me. Unfortunately, 10 minutes after the other attorney found out I was retained, they called to ask me if I would accept service on behalf of my client (i.e. – they filed a lawsuit as soon as I got involved). Their rationale? “My client instructed me to do so, and we wanted to put some pressure on your client to do something.” You can draw your own conclusions as to whether that seems like an effective strategy.
I have several problems with the way the attorney has initiated this case, not the least of which is the fact that I will never be able to trust anything this attorney tells me ever again. My professional opinion of him has taken a nose-dive. Second, I realize that he isn’t looking out for his client’s best interests (although he probably thinks he is) – because it is never in any divorce client’s best interest to get involved in litigation.
I had lunch today with another collaborative divorce lawyer – Deborah Throm. (For the record, I highly respect Deborah and her opinions – as well as her high ethical standards – I would work with her on a collaborative case in a heartbeat). We talked at great length about the collaborative process and why it is so much better than going to court. We both agreed that a collaborative divorce is better for pretty much every divorce client because of the following:
- You and your spouse get to control the outcome as opposed to a stranger in a black robe
- A collaborative divorce is less expensive to the parties than sending attorneys to court over and over again
- The collaborative process is much faster than divorce, with fewer emotional wounds to the parties
- There is less stress and anxiety to the process because you – the client – are an active participant who can control the outcome
- You can agree to things that you could never get from a judge
- When there are children involved, you can rest easy knowing that you acted in their best interests
As I see it, here are the only downsides:
You can find more information on Collaborative Divorce here – and check back frequently as I plan on changing my website in the coming months to reflect an increased emphasis on handling collaborative cases.