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Lawyers as clients


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Can we become better at working with clients in dispute by learning what lawyers do when they face their own disputes.

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Lawyers as clients

  1. 1. Richard Kulerski and Kari Cornelison Do Divorce Lawyers Do In Their OwnDivorces?Posted: 02/ 6/2012 12:30 pmWhat do divorce lawyers do in their own divorces?They try to stay out of court. Despite their familiarity with the system, and despite any perceivedadvantage they are believed to have, they do everything they can to settle their case before itreaches the court system.Divorce insiders try to resist the inclination to fight. They think going to court is a losingproposition. It wastes energy, time, and money and is a last resort; it is something they willconsider only when there is no other choice.Why are the pros more reluctant to fight than the public is? What do they know that the averageperson does not know?They know what the divorce legal system looks like from the inside; and they see fighting it outin court as a waste. They are not misled by Hollywood, and the various lawyer shows ontelevision, which have traditionally depicted courtroom justice as being clear-cut, instantaneous,and sure.They regard litigation (taking the case to court) as a counter-productive force that destroys theirchances of achieving a healthy negotiation climate.They know the system doesnt run on time and doesnt have the magic that the public thinks ithas. They know there are no winners in a divorce battle, and that the outcome of a divorce trialcan only define the extent of how much they will lose.Their experience is that everyone leaves the litigation process feeling frustrated, disillusioned,and poorer. They see going to trial as an emotional vampire that sucks the spirit out of people;they liken it to mental cruelty all over again.
  2. 2. Divorce insiders know that over 90 percent of all divorce cases settle before trial, with manysettling on the very eve of trial. It makes no sense to them to spend months (and lots of dollars)gearing up for a trial that, statistically, isnt going to happen. They would prefer to spend theirenergy and family funds working toward an early out-of-court settlement, rather than followingthe typical pattern of waiting until the end of the case to begin serious negotiations.Because more than nine out of every 10 divorcing spouses reach a settlement before they everget before a judge, insiders realize they will not get to vent and speak their minds in court. Theywill be deprived of the opportunity to tell the judge about the injustices, the dishonesty, thebetrayal, the adultery, the lies, the pain, the unfairness, and most of the other things that thepublic thinks the judge should hear.They know their emotions, feelings, and pain do not count in a courtroom. Instead, whendeciding a case, the judge is duty-bound to stick to the facts and the applicable law. The judge islikely to be prohibited from considering their underlying humanity, which is the very fulcrumupon which they base their sense of justice and entitlement.Even if they are the one out of ten litigants who do get the opportunity to testify in court, theyknow they still wont be able to say what all they want to say. They will be allowed to speak onlywhen answering questions put to them by the lawyers, and the rules of evidence will limit whatthe lawyers can ask.Most people look to the judge to mete out the justice that their spouse has long withheld. Divorceprofessionals, however, know there is no back pay in divorce and that the court cannot considermisconduct in determining monetary or property awards.In other areas of law, litigation puts an end to the problem. Divorce does bring legal closure, butit often causes additional family problems. The emotional devastation caused by litigation canlast for decades.Some people believe that divorce is where the guilty go free. To insiders, litigation does notprovide any satisfaction to the disputants and only makes sense when there is a genuine need forit.