As I lay in bed on a Saturday morning fielding calls from several different clients in a panic about giving their children over for the weekend to an ex-spouse or partner with whom they absolutely cannot stand, or worried that their children will not be returned after the weekend on time, or at all, I wondered if my attorney colleagues practicing business litigation or estate planning also spend their Friday nights and Saturday mornings or Sunday evenings speaking to clients who are in tears or enraged about the most valued thing they will ever have in their life- their children.
Family law lawyers can often play a different role than say a business litigation lawyer, or estate planning lawyer. It has been my experience in practicing family law that the family law lawyer must take on a different role than a business litigator or other like lawyer. The family law attorney must be compassionate, a diligent listener, and sometimes even a friend. The reason being is in family law the topics and issues that are being dealt with are not business transactions or estate planning, in family law the issues at hand are often intimate, extremely sensitive, and always very emotional.
Those involved in family law litigation are emotionally raw and often facing some of the toughest times in their lives. The family law lawyer must meet family law clients at their level. The lawyer must first understand what the clients are going through, be willing to listen to the spectrum of emotions that the client may be feeling, from rage, to regret, to feelings of loss and sadness. The lawyer must understand that their representation of the client is not only to vehemently represent their interests legally, but also to give the client a listening ear and a realistic perspective.
If you are facing a divorce, or a child custody dispute, or another similar family law matter, and you are looking for an attorney, you should retain the attorney with whom you feel most comfortable with and who you feel will listen to you and will become invested in your plight. Many, if not all lawyers are competent, however not all lawyers will take the time to hear you thoughts and your fears and handle you with compassion and your case with aggressive representation. When you find a lawyer that is able to be both compassionate and aggressive, that is the right attorney for you and your case.
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