Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

You Weren't Aggressive Enough!

I did a 4 day divorce trial a few months ago. My client had hankstamper04/12/17
It's not just limited to family law. I was managing trial at ejs201704/13/17
If he's paying your bill, he's entitled to give you unsolici loser1204/13/17
Loser you certainly haven't handled any family law cases. I cocolawyer04/13/17
I practiced family law at the beginning of my career. I fel ejs201704/14/17
What a typical ungrateful jerk (insert stronger word) client cranky04/13/17
He paid all his bills prior to trial, and he paid a large tr hankstamper04/14/17
Found out the hard way, did you? jeffm04/12/17
I don't miss those days at all. ruralattorney04/12/17
The lady that cuts my hair asked for free legal advice regar themapmaster04/12/17
I can't deal with non lawyers giving me advice about how to shikes04/12/17
And this is why I maintain that, with regard to the S**tlaw trickydick04/12/17
I've gotten lots of cards and gift baskets. Family law clien guyingorillasuit04/12/17
I've had both. Some people can be really thankful for your h thirdtierlaw04/12/17
I always sit down with the client before the trial or a disp guyingorillasuit04/12/17
GIGS, my hat's off to you for making a successful go of it a trickydick04/12/17
Debt collection is definitely one of the holy pillars of *th 3lol04/12/17
I rank debt collections down there with doc review and other trickydick04/12/17
The clients are normally the beauty of collections: creditor vohod04/16/17
I do all of it: family law, slumlord/tenant, debt collection dopesmokeresquire04/12/17
That doesn't sound so bad for family law. I love it when you fettywap04/12/17
This happens a lot. I also tell people before the hearing th guyingorillasuit04/12/17
another strategy. be so unhingedly aggressive sounding that defensivelawyer04/13/17
Agreed on all ends as a family law practitioner. Here we ha metsfan04/13/17
Divorce is such a boomer thing. adamb04/13/17
Some clients will never get it. I have a client right now wh jorgedeclaro04/13/17
They think they can bully and get their way. Nature of the b adamb04/13/17
Don't worry if he was not this far in the process he would p prodigy04/13/17
I hated the practice of Family Law. DCSS still deals with su cocolawyer04/13/17
After I started practicing everyone in my family earned thei isthisit04/13/17
"TV law is not based on law." Try to say it in a neutrally p adamb04/13/17
Yeah, my brother went through a divorce, and my mom tries to hankstamper04/14/17
This doesn't just happen in family law, I see it all the tim thirdtierlaw04/14/17
Freedom of speech has morphed into freedom of opinion - as i dingbat04/14/17
Or lack of said "intelligence." "You are no commander; yo adamb04/14/17
Some experienced criminals are savvy and know how to play th adamb04/14/17
Based on my anecdotal vague hunches, a lot of the disconnect therewillbeblood04/16/17

hankstamper (Apr 12, 2017 - 5:49 pm)

I did a 4 day divorce trial a few months ago. My client had some serious credibility issues and could not explain his income or accounting practices for his small business. I did the best that I could with what I had, but the judge hammered him pretty hard.

My client just stopped by my office to pick up his original documents. He decided to give me some unsolicited advice, and told me that the big problem with his trial was that I was not aggressive enough.

He then wanted to know why I hadn't asked the other party about her overseas properties (we had no evidence at all of any overseas properties), or why we had not introduced the e-mail messages her aunt had sent to him about all of his wife's misdeeds (hearsay, irrelevant). He told me that I should have been more aggressive and went after those issues.

That's family law for you. It's a nasty, hostile, toxic area to begin with, and if you ever lose, then your client will blame you for not being nasty enough.

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ejs2017 (Apr 13, 2017 - 9:37 am)

It's not just limited to family law. I was managing trial attorney for an insurance company that had very poor claims handling practices. In the state where I am licensed these practices potentially subjected my client to very large statutory interest and attorney fee awards in the event of an adverse jury verdict.

In an attempt to mitigate probable exposure to my client, I made it a practice to try to get along with opposing counsel. It worked very well in that I was able to get some very favorable settlements through ADR and pretrial settlement agreements.

It saved the company money in indemnity as well as litigation costs. Regardless, I was routinely lambasted by the company VP on the grounds that he felt that I wasn't being aggressive and that I wasn't conveying a message to opposing counsel.

The VP chose to ignore my case-by-case examples as well as real world statistics that essentially proved that a different strategy almost certainly would have resulted in the company being hammered at trial. A mentor of mine always used to say that the practice of law would be a great job but for the clients.

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loser12 (Apr 13, 2017 - 2:33 pm)

If he's paying your bill, he's entitled to give you unsolicited advice. You're working in an area where people will remember these cases for the rest of their lives. Nobody remembers their fender bender trial, but this guy will reflect back on his divorce for the next 40 years. Let him vent.

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cocolawyer (Apr 13, 2017 - 4:33 pm)

Loser you certainly haven't handled any family law cases. I handled to many. It drives you to suicidal thoughts.

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ejs2017 (Apr 14, 2017 - 10:12 am)

I practiced family law at the beginning of my career. I felt that I was playing the role of relationship advisor as well as lawyer. What drove me nuts was the willingness of my clients to spend money just to be vindictive. Mercifully, I was canned from my family law firm because I tried to talk a client out of spending money to have the visitation order changed because her ex brought their kid back an hour later than he was supposed to on a given weekend. Her ex's explanation was that he was having fun with their kid and lost track of time. Coming from a single-parent home myself that seemed to be a pretty admirable excuse.

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cranky (Apr 13, 2017 - 6:32 pm)

What a typical ungrateful jerk (insert stronger word) client. At least he didn't demand some of his money back -- or will he? This is typical in the world of family law. You're in plenty of company. I had one client act like a nutcase in court, and shortly before running to the police to make a false claim of sexual abuse, she whined that I had not prepared her well enough for court. Then she ended up going through at least 3 other attorneys. I often wind up disliking my clients, even the ones who seem normal and nice enough at the beginning. At least the money keeps it somewhat tolerable.

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hankstamper (Apr 14, 2017 - 1:53 pm)

He paid all his bills prior to trial, and he paid a large trial deposit. However, I've done about $1000 of work tying up loose ends after trial, and I am doubtful whether that bill will get paid or not.

What is irritating is that I did a great job for him, and things could have been much worse. He did a lot of really stupid things before I was his attorney which he could not give good reasons for at trial, and then wants to blame me for "not being aggressive enough."

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jeffm (Apr 12, 2017 - 5:59 pm)

Found out the hard way, did you?

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ruralattorney (Apr 12, 2017 - 6:03 pm)

I don't miss those days at all.

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themapmaster (Apr 12, 2017 - 6:27 pm)

The lady that cuts my hair asked for free legal advice regarding her problems with her ex husband. I gave it to her. Instead of saying thanks, she insulted me by saying that I'm not tough enough to take her case. The previous attorney in our firm who represented her also wasn't tough enough and that's why she came away with nothing from the divorce.

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shikes (Apr 12, 2017 - 7:25 pm)

I can't deal with non lawyers giving me advice about how to do my job because they saw some Law & Order over the weekend. I literally go nuts on those people.

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trickydick (Apr 12, 2017 - 8:38 pm)

And this is why I maintain that, with regard to the S**tlaw Big Five, family law is the worst area of practice.

With bankruptcy and immigration it's usually a flat rate for routine work, and if the work isn't routine you can charge more and typically get it up front. Of course clients are difficult, but no more so than most.

The clients in criminal law are of a distinctly lower strata of human society, but again, you get paid up front even if the stakes for failure can be a lot higher.

In PI/comp, you work on contingency and will get a cut even if your client fires you and goes to another attorney. When my clients get out of hand, I remind them that they have paid me zilch and if they're not happy they can fire my ass...my attorney's fee lien has priority over all other liens.

Family law. Yikes. The idea of a flat rate divorce is mere fantasy. Sending some dead beat a monthly bill for services rendered or demanding a four figure retainer every few months and wondering whether you'll ever see a dime sounds like hell. And, of course, there's the total lack of client satisfaction. Working in immigration and torts, I've had clients give me fruit baskets or wine in gratitude for all I did. With family law cases, those miserable animals are NEVER HAPPY. The concept of no fault divorce eludes them and they can't help but wonder why the process is so damn unfair. I worked at a family law firm for a year. It was a high end firm, too, with celebrities and CEOs, clients with seven figure incomes and millions in assets. NEVER AGAIN! Better to starve on the street like a common cur than go through that!

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guyingorillasuit (Apr 12, 2017 - 8:51 pm)

I've gotten lots of cards and gift baskets. Family law clients need to be treated gingerly, be heard out, and have their hand held. You have to explain things to them, and sympathize a little bit.

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thirdtierlaw (Apr 12, 2017 - 9:11 pm)

I've had both. Some people can be really thankful for your hard work. Others can be insufferable.

I just finished a divorce a month and a half ago. We got absolutely everything we asked for, including things we probably shouldn't have. My client came to collect the rest of his retainer. The very first thing he says to me is, "we should have asked for more! If we got everything we asked for, you should have known we could get more!" I don't let it get to me anymore. That case just paid for my family vacation this year. He'll also come around once he starts talking to other divorcees and sees the outcomes they got in their divorce.

I really try to be sympathetic in family law matters. There is nothing more personal than family and nobody is meeting with an attorney unless they are emotionally hurt in some capacity.

That being said, plaintiff PI does sound nice.

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guyingorillasuit (Apr 12, 2017 - 10:45 pm)

I always sit down with the client before the trial or a dispositive hearing, go over the items/issues in dispute, and explain our best case scenario and our worst case scenario. I then explain the weaknesses and the strengths in our case. People seem to like being part of this discussion - it's their life, after all. They are also more likely to understand what is going on in Court.

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trickydick (Apr 12, 2017 - 9:22 pm)

GIGS, my hat's off to you for making a successful go of it as a solo, and moreover in a field as brutal as family law, but I'm not a therapist and I'm always the first to remind my clients of that when they start crying or screaming.

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3lol (Apr 12, 2017 - 9:19 pm)

Debt collection is definitely one of the holy pillars of *that kind* of law.

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trickydick (Apr 12, 2017 - 9:27 pm)

I rank debt collections down there with doc review and other contract work, I don't even count it as "that kind" of law.

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vohod (Apr 16, 2017 - 1:50 am)

The clients are normally the beauty of collections: creditor clients don't care 99% of the time but if they do then they show up at trial (guaranteeing a win). I couldn't imagine family law clients. No way.

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dopesmokeresquire (Apr 12, 2017 - 10:03 pm)

I do all of it: family law, slumlord/tenant, debt collection, crim defense.

My schtick is that i immeditely establish myself as a authoritative, even parental figure. I tell them what to do. Always. They WANT to be told what to do i have found because it's direction and gives them a sense of security. My secretary plays the role of the therapist.

I LOVE debt collection. I seriously could do it 100%. There is nothing more satisfying than sticking it to scumbags and PD-like clients.

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fettywap (Apr 12, 2017 - 11:12 pm)

That doesn't sound so bad for family law. I love it when you go to court and the judge gives them every single thing they ask for. Then they start calling you before you make it to the car because the husband is not jumping up fast enough to follow the judge's orders. Those people are getting divorced because they're unhappy and make everyone around them miserable.

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guyingorillasuit (Apr 12, 2017 - 11:22 pm)

This happens a lot. I also tell people before the hearing that there will be anger and frustration on both sides. It will take 6-12 weeks before we can enforce anything, unless it's a dire emergency. When you manage people's expectations, you can really reduce their complaining.

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defensivelawyer (Apr 13, 2017 - 12:33 am)

another strategy. be so unhingedly aggressive sounding that the client wants to rein you in.

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metsfan (Apr 13, 2017 - 7:09 am)

Agreed on all ends as a family law practitioner. Here we have a family law attorney who is a good attorney, but makes his money because he is extremely aggressive to everyone--opposing counsel, the ex, even the judges and their staff! He charges over $600/hr. and I heard receives retainers of over $20k! I have to tip my hat to him.

Works down the road from my ex in-laws--we had an uncontested divorce a few years ago but had that fallen through she was looking to hire him!

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adamb (Apr 13, 2017 - 7:44 am)

Divorce is such a boomer thing.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 13, 2017 - 10:12 am)

Some clients will never get it. I have a client right now who is cutting the fattest hog and is going to collect somewhere around 100,000 on an original judgment of about 30k. He is complaining about a couple grand in attorney's fees and has been told no less than six times that we don't have a basis for collecting attorneys fees that doesn't jeopardize his ability to collect this judgment. He doesn't and will never get it.

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adamb (Apr 13, 2017 - 10:17 am)

They think they can bully and get their way. Nature of the beast.

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prodigy (Apr 13, 2017 - 2:52 pm)

Don't worry if he was not this far in the process he would perhaps fire you. The beauty about divorce both parties are snow white. There are no fabricated stories, hidden assets, infidelity etc.

Family law drains the soul, I promise you. Keep calm, go to the gym hit the crap out of the punching bag, drink a gin, vodka or desired drink of your choice and keep it moving.

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cocolawyer (Apr 13, 2017 - 4:46 pm)

I hated the practice of Family Law. DCSS still deals with support components, but that is soo soo much more manageable.

The problem with Family Law is that everything is an emergency, and everything needs to be done right then. The reality is the opposite of that. Barely anything is an emergency situation. Of course there little princess being 5 minutes late for pickup is.

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isthisit (Apr 13, 2017 - 5:02 pm)

After I started practicing everyone in my family earned their J.D. through osmosis and started giving me advice on how I should practice. I even get quizzed about what I'd do if presented with the kind of cases seen on TV (news and TV judges).

I generally love my family but it drives me crazy.

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adamb (Apr 13, 2017 - 5:15 pm)

"TV law is not based on law." Try to say it in a neutrally polite but firm way.

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hankstamper (Apr 14, 2017 - 1:56 pm)

Yeah, my brother went through a divorce, and my mom tries to give me her legal opinion on things all the time (e.g. Well, if his ex doesn't get a job soon and can't support the kids on her own, then she will lose custody).

I tried to explain things to him and to my mom several times, but have since given up, and just nod my head and go along.

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thirdtierlaw (Apr 14, 2017 - 2:10 pm)

This doesn't just happen in family law, I see it all the time in criminal law as well. I will never understand where people develop this "understanding" of what the law says. The worst part is that they are so certain that they are correct. I do family and criminal law for a living and people will try arguing with me about what the judge can and cannot do. You explain what the law actually says and then a week later they are back to spouting their made-up nonsense.

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dingbat (Apr 14, 2017 - 2:46 pm)

Freedom of speech has morphed into freedom of opinion - as in "my opinion is as valid as your expertise". This goes hand-in-hand with a rising mistrust of the learned class, such as scientists (see e.g. climate change, anti-vax).

People do their own "research", where they really just end up in an echochamber which reinforces their flawed opinions. More importantly, when confronted with their ignorance, people double-down. Rather than engage in conversation, they get defensive, thinking you're insulting their intelligence.

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adamb (Apr 14, 2017 - 3:51 pm)

Or lack of said "intelligence."

"You are no commander; you are a threat to the mission! Your methods are stupid! Your progress has been stupid! Your intelligence is stupid!" GIR to ZIM

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adamb (Apr 14, 2017 - 3:50 pm)

Some experienced criminals are savvy and know how to play the game with the local ADAs.

First offenders in DWI, DV, and SO are the worst with repetition, with misunderstanding the facts and the law, and with blaming a lack of aggression -- as if the defense is solely in control of the fate of the case.

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therewillbeblood (Apr 16, 2017 - 9:47 am)

Based on my anecdotal vague hunches, a lot of the disconnect between some lawyers and some clients is class-based. Suburban liberal artists are uncomfortable with conflict and think people reason logically and look at results. Some clients don't believe you're doing what you should if you don't tell at THEM and carry on. "Are you out of your damn mind? You should be on your knees thanking me for pulling that off! That was goddamn brilliant!"

It's why Trump won. For a certain kind of low-info American, "successful" people self-promote.

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