Divorces provide fertile ground for fights. But when lawyers are involved, fights cost money. Fighting for fighting’s sake can be an expensive endeavor. Unfortunately, many lawyers are more than happy to further the fight. But what is in your best interest? What is the cost-benefit of fighting? What is the likely outcome of the fight? Does this fight make sense? Does winning the fight help you win the war?
A lawyer is your advocate. Your lawyer speaks for you in legal settings. Your lawyer’s job is to advocate for you in the legal forum, with all of its rules, customs, and unique procedures, in order to accomplish an outcome in your best interest within the bounds of what the law allows and provides. Lawyers sometimes speak a different language. But the goals should always be the same – effective advocacy.
But a lawyer is more than an advocate. Or perhaps her role as advocate includes more than simply advocating as most people define it. A lawyer can only be an effective advocate if she takes into account what is in her client’s best interest. What is in a client’s best interest may not be the same as what they think is in their best interest. Again, the legal process allows for limited outcomes. There are only certain things that a court can and will address or order. And those possibilities must be strategically evaluated when exploring options for resolution and courses of conduct along the way.
Some things are worth fighting for. A lawyer should help her client analyze and evaluate the costs associated with the fight and the outcome of winning it.
To do otherwise fails to take into account what is in the client’s best interest. This requires effective communication between lawyer and client. And communication is effective only if it is honest. This means that the lawyer must be comfortable being honest with her client, not just telling him what he wants to hear. And, if with a full, complete, and honest discussion and evaluation, the lawyer and client agree that a fight is worth fighting, then and only then should the fight begin (or continue).
In legal proceedings, particularly divorces, fights should have a strategic goal. The goal is not necessarily to “win” the fight, or at least not in the traditional sense. A fight might help accomplish a reasonable compromise settlement. In the legal arena, that is a win. Fighting without a goal or without realizing when achieving a desired outcome is achievable or without appreciating that a client’s interests can be successfully addressed is a waste of time and money. And it can lay the groundwork for more trouble to come, for example if there are children involved which will necessarily mean that further engagement between the parents will be necessary.