We live in a world driven by supply and demand. Real and perceived demand, sometimes manufactured and manipulated. Society perceived a need for more lawyers, and television glorified the profession, and BOOM, existing law schools expanded, new law schools came into being, all cranking out more and more lawyers every year, to the point of market saturation. The result is a glut of lawyers who struggle to find any form of legal employment, or remain unemployed, while also struggling with crushing student loan debt. Very sad.
Many of those lawyers who are unable to find gainful employment in other perhaps more preferred areas and are, by default and lack of other options, establishing their own practices. Due to the demand, they become “family law lawyers”. They are often anything but.
More often than not, many “divorce only” practitioners have a made a habit of simply farming out related cases involving their “divorce only” clients (bankruptcies, criminal arrests, claims of domestic violence, etc.) to other law firms, in exchange for reciprocal referrals from them for those firm’s family law matters. There is nothing wrong with that process in and of itself, but as the client (and as a consumer shopping for legal services) you may find yourself having to tell your life story to two or three different attorneys, and try to forge a highly personal working relationship with each of those individuals, as you attempt to find your way through the maze of a legal divorce/family law procedure.
Frankly, I think it is hard enough to sit with someone who is initially a stranger, and bare your soul and answer painful and sometimes intimate questions about your life and history only one time, and there is also a risk when you have to repeat that history, you may forget what you have told to whom, and a second or third person may not fit all the pieces together.
Another reason is the process itself, and the limitations that many “divorce only” practitioners have in Court. Our legal step system has established a series of complex and highly technical rules (known as the Rules of Evidence) which attempt, to the extent possible, to regulate the types of evidence that are brought into a specific case, and to prevent the introduction of evidence which is either irrelevant, improper, unnecessary, or unduly inflammatory. In family law, the often tricky, technical, and sometimes incomprehensible (to clients, laypersons, and even some lawyers!) rules of evidence are not strictly applied to New Hampshire divorce proceedings. While there is generally a sound public policy reason for this rule, (in that it allows the introduction of evidence about children, their education, counseling, and other issues to be presented to a court for evaluation without the sometimes burdensome and expensive formalities of our rules of evidence), the Rules of Evidence are not entirely discarded in these proceedings. Time and again, I have seen new, and even more experienced marital practitioners completely inept with the rules of evidence, and unable to effectively challenge or respond to challenges to evidence that they are seeking to present or exclude in a case. An attorney who practices in other disciplines, where the split-second analysis, understanding and applications of the rules of evidence are required, and rarely waived, is in a better position to formulate a coherent argument, and thereby more effectively present your position to the court.
Why? Because judges like and respond to a well reasoned legal argument.
I often tell my clients that you only get one, perhaps two chances in a divorce or family law case (Temporary Hearing and Final Hearing) of convincing a court of the legitimacy of your position and the wisdom and agreeing to and ordering the goals which you wish to promote. Having an advocate that can thoughtfully and coherently formulate your position is only half the battle. You need an advocate who can also responsibly identify any other issues which may relate to your marital dissolution, and if present, be able to, under one roof, formulate a single coherent plan to get you through the legal process as promptly, favorably and cost-effectively as possible. Call or write us today for a consultation.