A Good Family Law Attorney
So what kind of attorney are you? My standard response has always been, ‘I hope a good one.'
But what is it that makes a good attorney, especially in the family law setting? I suggest (at least) the following:
(*note that I have used male pronouns to refer to the attorney, as I am male, and I have further chosen to refer to the singular client with the plural pronoun they/their/them rather than using the awkward ‘he or she' or ‘her or him' My apologies to the grammarians)
1. A good family law attorney is a good listener. I try to spend most of my time in initial consultation with my clients simply listening, hearing their story. Yes, some questions, yes, asking for clarity or more information, but mostly listening to someone who has a problem and needs legal assistance. Once I have understood them, then I can help.
2. A good family law attorney is compassionate. (but not an emotional basket case) I believe that an attorney must genuinely, authentically be involved in the case, wanting a resolution for the client. This requires heart and requires emotion—cold analysis won't cut it; but the good attorney will always recognize that a clear-eyed view of the case, its problems and its possible solutions is only possible when the attorney is not so emotionally involved as to render him unable to work in a competent manner.
3. A good family law attorney works hard against problems, but not hard against people. Aggressive against the problem, not against the people. I don't believe it is required for an attorney to be needlessly inflammatory, ugly in rhetoric, mean for the sake of being mean. I find such actions to be counterproductive, and often makes a case more difficult rather than ending in a better resolution for my client.
4. A good family law attorney is comforting and encouraging to his client, but also truthful and honest as to practical possibilities and outcomes. My clients want me to be on their side, and I am. However, I know (and they know) that just because I am on their side does not mean that their side is always perfect, righteous and holy. I will always strive to tell my client both what is good and not so good about their case and what that likely means if we are unable to reach a resolution without a trial and a judge making a decision for them.
5. A good family law attorney knows the law and knows people. I was surprised early on how much a family law attorney is playing amateur psychologist, both as to my clients as well as opposing parties and counsel. Being aware of what the law says, as well as what the people involved (parties, attorneys, judge) are likely to do given general human nature and the individuals involved is helpful both to navigating a case as well as to finding a good resolution.