Top 10 (Or Bottom 10?) Divorce Lawyers
January 28, 2014
In a recent article for the Wisconsin Law Journal, “What our practice area needs for the holidays?” I proposed as a holiday present for lawyers the ability to choose the lawyer on the other side of the case.
Recently, I was sent an article on “Top 10: Lawyers You Don’t Want To See In Divorce Court.
According to the introduction to the article:
Hell hath no fury like a woman with a vicious divorce lawyer. Just ask some of the most powerful men in the world who have ended up on the wrong end of a settlement. From professional athletes to media tycoons, all it takes is one marital misstep for your bank account to resemble the gas gauge of a Hummer.
It would not be difficult to assemble such a list from local lawyers, although as I’ve said previously in this blog, they represent, by far, the minority of divorce lawyers.
Interestingly, I occasionally have people call me – and even pay me for consultations – for the sole purpose of seeking to prevent me from representing their spouse. This is foolish for two reasons: First, even though the vicious lawyers are a small minority, there are still a lot of lawyers to buy off (a factor of the large number of lawyers in the general population). Second, I am the lawyer you do want your spouse to hire as I settle cases.
The reason for these calls – and somewhat for this articles – is equating aggressive lawyers with good lawyering. While there is a place for aggressive lawyering in this area, it takes no brains to be aggressive – you just say no to everything. Those lawyers remind me of the old Groucho Marx song “Whatever it is, I’m against it”
The skill in lawyering is knowing when to be aggressive – and when not to be. Frequently in this area, destroying the incentive to make money, commonly known as the golden goose, does not do the recipient spouse any favors. The trick is to get maximum results for your client while leaving the other spouse, at a minimum, with the incentive to create the money to effectuate the results. At a maximum, although it is rare, it is even better if the money producing spouse leaves court thinking s/he actually won.
The best lawyers are those who recognize this concept and search for the best equilibrium. The worst lawyers are those who see divorce as a win/lose game akin to a gladiator contest. Those lawyers are rightly feared – but should not be admired.