Helen Keller said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” This really sums up litigation in family law. So often, the parties and/or their lawyers have no vision about the damage the litigation is having on the people and family involved. The impact is not only emotional and psychological, but financial. Everyone has heard about the cases where they fight until there is nothing left. A colleague of mine calls this “litigation by attrition.” So true.
Lawyer Should Share Their Vision
Lawyers who have been practicing family law for any length of time should be able to provide their clients with the vision of how most of the issues in their case would be resolved by a judge. Yet, parties and their lawyers fight with each other over these very same issues. Why? It could be that the lawyer is not skilled in passing on the vision they possess onto their client. It could be the client does not want to share that vision because he or she is blinded by hatred, anger, revenge or other similarly destructive states of mind. Either way, the net result is litigation by attrition – fight until there is nothing left. This, to me, is the worst part about practicing family law – watching people who are unable to get out of this quagmire.
The Division of Work
I feel strongly it is incumbent upon a lawyer to litigate and advocate for their client, and that often means in the courtroom. I also feel strongly that the lawyer should make concerted efforts to settle the case. The best lawyer to help settle a case is not the first- year associate in the office. Rather, it is the trial lawyer – the lawyer who is going to actually take the case to trial if it cannot be settled. In my opinion, the best way for this to occur is that, while the young associates on each side are preparing the pleadings and notebooks for trial, the senior attorneys/partners who will try the case should devote their time to working together to resolve the case – or at least some of the issues.
Unfortunately, I find that many of my colleagues do not share my vision. So, once again, I am off to trial.