I am proud of my work as a family attorney. At seven years old I was subjected to the family law system. At the end of the first custody go-round, I felt angry with my parents, their attorneys, and the judge. My seven-year-old self told off the court, judge, and parents by saying “I could do way better than you guys.” My experiences with family court, judges, and attorneys were a huge part of my decision to grow up and be an attorney. Hopefully, if that seven-year-old girl critiqued me today, I’d pass muster.
Many of the interview clips in Divorce Corp. were beyond appalling. The ones that stuck with me were attorneys in various states:
- Boasting about charging upwards of $600.00 per hour,
- Billing $54,000.00 in just over two hours,
- Encouraging clients to make up allegations of abuse to gain advantage,
- Advising they will win their client’s case based on campaign contributions, and
- Referring to weddings as “future inventory.”
Despite what the film may lead you to think, not all family law attorneys are rich, unethical, jaded, or liars. Most of us work extremely hard and take our role in helping families seriously. We are hired to use our legal education to advocate for our clients within the confines of the law. Litigation is essentially war, so it is not well suited for any relationship a litigant values and wants to maintain for the future. That is especially true when loved ones turn against one another.
What Divorce Corp. does not do is explain other ways of resolving conflict in the family dynamic, such as pursuing an uncontested divorce, early intervention mediation, or collaborative law. If you consult with a lawyer and the only option he/she provides is litigation, then I strongly suggest you speak to someone who will give you options and explain each one in depth. Otherwise, there is no way to make an informed decision. This is very similar to the notion of informed consent in medicine, such as when forms in 8-point font are shoved before you on a clipboard with the expectation that you sign without asking questions. To me, informed consent means the person seeking services was told about options, the risks and benefits associated with each, the estimated cost, and what a reasonable outcome might include.
Whether you’re talking about lawyers, doctors, teacher, contractors, or the church pastor, there are good ones and bad ones. It’s unfortunate that most of the time we hear only about those who denigrate their profession rather than those who commit themselves to learning throughout their professional life, obtain positive results for clients, give of their time and talent to those who are less fortunate.