Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Experienced lawyers are like surgeons. You don't always get a blow by blow account of the process. Except in surgery the patient isn't usually wide awake.
Here's some insight that isn't always verbalized:
1. There are no guarantees. There are too many variables: the judge, the opponent, how much the other side wants out, and how much each is willing to spend. If a lawyer seems overly confident in her promises and bluster--be on guard. It may be solely to charm that retainer right out of your checkbook. Ask for those promises in writing. It won't happen.
2. We get nervous too. There's often a lot at stake. Acknowledging the immensity of the issue at hand and the impact any outcome would have on your family is a positive attribute.
3. We don't always have the answers. The key is knowing where to find them or who to call. Sometimes the best answer is "I'll get back to you."
4. This is gonna take a long time. Lawyers manage multiple cases in various jurisdictions and often have little control over their own schedules. Judges acquire thousands of new cases each year. Still, everyone gets out of the system--eventually.
5. The system isn't perfect. But it's the best there is. The alternative is inputting the data into a computer, or a slot machine for that matter, and then pulling down that handle... at least you'd know right away.
6. Sometimes it's personal. Lawyers don't always leave their personal feelings on the courthouse steps. If it feels like the lawyers are fighting more than the litigants, it's time to lay down swords for a reality check. Counselor grudge matches only bump up the fees.
8. Justice isn't blind. That judge is watching you in the courtroom! One eye roll or snicker can cost a litigant the winning point. Dress like you're going to church. If the issue is how much you are able to pay, remove the gold chains and Rolex. Spit out your gum. Otherwise the clerk may be handing you a tissue right in front of your delighted opponent.
9. Litigation can be harmful to your health. I've stepped out into the waiting room, not recognizing a client I saw two weeks hence. Folks may go on the de-vorse diet, which means either they're not eating or burning up calories in anxious energy, or they may be drowning their sorrows with carbs. Whatever it is, it's usually temporary--except that new hairstyle. Those sideburns your wife hated? You can grow those puppies down to your chin if you like!
10. Pay attention. You're paying for our advice--at a hefty price. My momma always said "you can't learn anything when your mouth is open--except the soup is hot!"
The best tool in your tool belt during this tough time? A realistic outlook and an understanding of the human factor in litigation.
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