Approximately 50% of people claim they are unsatisfied
Approximately 50% of people in the midst of a divorce claim they are unsatisfied with their legal representation. Many become so dissatisfied that they decide to fire their lawyer before hiring a new one. A number of these individuals become just as dissatisfied with their new lawyer. Some people go through one lawyer after another before a divorce can be finalized. Invariably, they end up still being unhappy with whoever represents them. After several unsettling experiences in the early stages of my career, I decided that never would I ever become a divorcee’s third professional. How could I be successful when two lawyers before me weren’t? In my opinion, this rule prevented me from serving many miserable clients.
Dissatisfaction with a lawyer
I am telling you this because I need you to understand that your dissatisfaction with a lawyer could be because of their incompetent, indifferent, rude, or poor service. In such cases, you are encouraged to replace lawyers. However, you must be certain that the issue isn’t on your end. How realistic are the expectations you have about legal representation? If a lawyer does not return calls quickly enough for you, this may be because of another client they are serving at the time – one whose needs are far more urgent. Perhaps you expected the lawyer to hold your hand from start to finish of the case.
Fault of the lawyer or the Overburdened Court System
Perhaps you are calling your lawyer impulsively and often rather than managing your meetings more professionally. If your upcoming divorce is moving at a snail’s pace, is it the fault of the lawyer or the overburdened court system? You opted to litigate at a time when faster alternatives were available. Did you do so because of the cost and time associated with your options? If you were dead set on hiring the county’s star litigator, thinking that doing so would achieve successful results, can you really be surprised when this lawyer cannot allocate the time and attention you demand of them?
Litigation process’s rhythm
After reviewing your behaviour and expectations and concluding that you are faultless, you can focus on your lawyer’s deficiencies. Many busy lawyers allow a litigation process’s rhythm to determine how fast a case progresses. If both spouses are not in agreement on several issues, a lawyer will need to perform extensive research to get ready for a potential trial in case a settlement is not negotiated. This is something that cannot be rushed. Take deposition scheduling, for instance.
Schedules and Phone Tag
With busy schedules and phone tag, it might be months before all lawyers involved in the case can pick a date when they are available. When that date arrives, at least one lawyer will be contacted by a court to begin the trial. This may warrant further delaying a deposition. Many lawyers are sensitive to their clients’ time. They reduce the amount of depositions taken and work effortlessly alongside the opposing lawyer, who is doing the same. To put it another way, a thoughtful lawyer is capable of moving cases along at a faster speed. But will they care enough to do so? Some are considerate, others aren’t. This is also applicable to telephone calls.
Return calls within one business day
Many lawyers go out of their way to return calls within one business day; others respond when they have free time. If the lawyer you hired thinks you are annoying, then your call might be the very last one they return. As such, it is imperative to establish how compatible you are with a lawyer – ideally well before they are paid. If you are anxious and require excessive reassurance, tell the lawyer this in advance.
Can they realistically cater to your needs
Ask them if they can realistically cater to your needs. Occasionally, when it comes to “high maintenance” clients, lawyers will assign sympathetic paralegals to conduct handholding on their behalf. However, if this isn’t enough for you, ensure that you’re okay not getting phone calls every day from the lawyer. If you are a picky person, consider choosing a lawyer who isn’t as busy.
Lawyer’s style of litigation
One aspect that could hold your case up is the lawyer’s style of litigation. Many people cultivate hard-nose projections by pressuring adversaries into litigating everything. This cultivates tough imagery while generating high legal costs. If this is the kind of lawyer you will hire, an honest conversation and a replacement is probably the better way to go. The style of a lawyer has a larger effect than the average client realizes. While other lawyers know which of their peers are difficult lawyers to collaborate with, they won’t tell you. I am very aware which lawyers are the most difficult.
It is in your best interest to determine the lawyer’s style before paying a retainer. Consider finding a different lawyer if you feel you need to.
Lawyers may not like one another
Another issue is that the lawyers facing each other may not like one another. If the lawyer representing your spouse and the one representing you are in conflict, cooperation between the two may be nonexistent. This will not only slow down your case, but it will also force you both to pay a lot of money. Talk about this factor with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. In the event that you are on the same page about this matter, the answer might involve a bilateral adjustment.
Personality issues and style are big problems, but so, too, is incompetence. Sadly, your lawyer might not know enough about divorce law because they couldn’t be bothered to research recent changes to it. The lawyer might not be very good at negotiating because they lack the skills to do so properly. Some lawyers cover up their incompetence with a style considered bellicose, which usually scuttles negotiations. Incompetence may take the form of ignorance when it comes to child psychology and family dynamics.
A lawyer may come to conclusions that result in unnecessary hardship, not just for you but also for the whole family. Lastly, the manner in which lawyers represent clients usually reflects their philosophical point of view. If they are a cynic, you will be able to tell. If wisdom isn’t their strong suit, it will also show.
If the relationship you have with a lawyer sours, the only option you have is to replace them. If you think that your divorce proceedings may suffer from incompetence, foolishness, or neglect on your lawyer’s part, change should also be considered. A common worry for divorcees in these scenarios involves their ability to recoup money already spent on the lawyer. The fact is, many lawyers are able to review files and get up to speed on a case within hours. If your legal representative is causing conflict, then replacing them could save you money in the long run.
I help conflicted, and outcome-focused separating couples, create separation agreements with clarity and soft landings for secure futures, in 4 meetings or less without all the lawyer created overwhelming conflicts, confusion and costs. You can meet me online or at any of the 6 DTSW Greater Toronto mediation centres including | Aurora | Barrie | North York | Vaughan | Mississauga | Scarborough