When many are looking for representation in a divorce or family law matter, many are looking for a lawyer who can “win” their case. The term “win” is commonly used and very important to many.
In some instances, a potential client may even ask their attorney to give their record. In other words, like a boxer, they want to know how many cases they’ve won versus how many they’ve lost.
While the question might make sense to those who do not have a legal background, the question is really problematic on a lot of levels.
First and foremost, how does a client even define a “win” or a “loss” for their divorce or family law matter? In other words, if the client wants a divorce and the attorney gets them divorced, is that a win? Or, are they defining a win as getting everything that they wanted?
For many clients, they might get divorced and they get a lot (or even most) of what they want. Is that a win or is it a loss — because the client didn’t get everything they wanted (which almost nobody does in a divorce)?
In the end, most divorce or family law matters have a number of issues at stake, like the divorce itself, property and debt division, custody, support, spousal support and attorney’s fees. This means that a client might like the outcome in several areas, but may have wanted something different in one, two or several areas.
This is remarkably different from a criminal matter where after a trial, the defendant is either found guilty or innocent. And it’s remarkably different from a personal injury case where the defendant is either found liable or not liable for whatever negligence was alleged.
In the end, a “win” or a “loss” is complicated in a divorce or family law matter. The issues are often many in number and the lines blurry in terms of what is a “win” or a “loss.”
A lawyer also cannot change the facts of a case. Sometimes, in other words, a lawyer gets a case with good facts. Other times, they get a case with bad facts. This is not necessarily a reflection on the skills of the lawyer.
Further, does anybody really win in a divorce? Or is it more an issue of who loses less?
What most clients will want to find in an attorney is somehow who is competent, communicative and diligent versus seeking out a win-loss record. A win-loss record is rarely a good measure in divorce and family law.