HOW GOOD A LAWYER DO YOU WANT?
March 30, 2009
Death and Divorce are Traumatic
OK, here you are seeking a divorce, or planning for the death or disability of yourself or a loved one. You seek out an attorney to handle the divorce, trust or estate. This is an emotionally charged time for you and your family. We understand. Many family law clients are angry, often but not always justifiably so. Divorce, child custody, child support, property settlement, and alimony are hard topics. So are probating a will, drawing up a will, crafting the estate plan you want for yourself or your loved one. No wonder people get angry!
Not every good lawyer gets every client mad, but a really good lawyer can actually get you more annoyed, not less! Why? Because they’re good, that’s why. How do I know? Look, I’m only the office manager at a small family law firm. But I have survived a divorce, I’ve taken people to court over civil matters, and I‘m the fly on the wall when the lawyers in the office make legal decisions.
What I notice is a lot of difficult communication. We have attorneys because the law is complex, changing and can be unpredictable in its outcomes. The law has been around for centuries — and it shows!
There are rules and regulations and laws the ordinary person cannot be expected to know about and who can be expected to have a difficult time grasping. There are doctrines in the law that are so much a part of everything that lawyers and courts do that it can be a culture shock to you, the client, when you find out about them. For instance in Minnesota family court fairness – not victory — is the point of the proceedings. Family courts in Minnesota are a really bad place to get revenge. You can get justice regarding your divorce, alimony, child support, child custody, the division of marriage property, yes; but these are based upon fairness to all parties concerned, especially the children. You cannot expect the court to base their decisions solely upon your case and especially not on your feelings. The courts and the laws are required to balance the needs of all parties concerned.
What a Real Divorce or Trusts and Estates Lawsuit is NOT!
If a lawyer is really good, she or he will do things you never thought possible, necessary, or sufficient for your case. Let me break this down. First, here are a few examples of what will not happen:
* A real case is not heard in a courtroom resembling “Judge Judy,”
“Law and Order” or “Boston Legal.” Emotions don’t win cases. Facts, a winning strategy, and understanding and applying the law wins your case.
* You won’t see someone on the other side break down and jump up
shouting from the witness chair, “Yes, I did it! I did it! I lied, lied about everything and I’m glad do you hear me, glad!!!” Nope, that’
s not going to happen.
* A real case, especially one in Minnesota regarding family law
(divorce, alimony, child custody, child support, etc.) or one involving trusts and estate (Trusts, estate planning, probate, legacy planning,
etc.) – is most probably not a celebrity case. It will not involve a phalanx of attorneys on either side and it will not involve a barn full of evidence and a courtroom full of perky, quirky and technical expert witnesses who work in those really futuristic crime labs like you see on
* Your case, with a good lawyer, will probably involve fewer
witnesses, fewer exhibits and less time and emotion, and quite possibly
more money, than you think necessary.
What a Competent, Caring Family Law or Trusts and Estates Attorney Will Do
How come? Well, here are some examples of what I think a good lawyer would do.
* A good attorney will bear in mind where he or she is practicing
law. We practice law in Minnesota. Not only does that involve knowing Minnesota law, it involves knowing what judges here tend to like, and dislike, what the case law is, what juries like, and dislike, and so on.
For instance, Hennepin county juries do not usually award large dollar settlements for anything.
* A good attorney will charge you what they are worth, because a
good attorney has to pay for research, computers, office staff, think time, writing time, and so on. You get what you pay for. This does not mean your bill will be astronomical, but it also does not mean you want to retain the cheapest attorney, or that you can make a decision based on hourly rates alone.
* A good attorney will carefully craft a strategy and tactics for
the case that will not only be designed to bring you justice but will also be designed to bring you the justice you can afford. Let me be clear – you may be able to get a settlement more favorable than might ordinarily be expected, but doing so will almost certainly cost you more time, anguish, money, and work than if you get a good, but not astronomical settlement – one you can afford to pay for.
* A good attorney who knows the family law and probate courts here
in Minnesota, will present the most telling argument, the most telling strategy, the most telling evidence, in your case. She or he will not necessarily present all of the evidence you have helped gather and paid your attorney to gather. Courts do not necessarily need to hear the same conclusion propped up in all sorts of different ways. The courts are usually most impressed by a tight, cogent and brief argument which they can assume is your best argument.
* A good attorney won’t just throw affidavits, evidence, and
arguments at your case. She or he will work to get the sharpest, most relevant argument winnowed out of the mass of emotions and data and paperwork involved.
I hope you have found this informative. I’m Tom Moore, the office manager at Moore Family Law. You can reach us at:
Moore Family Law, P.A.
3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C
Plymouth, MN 55447