Lawyers, Litigation/Trial Law

7. Lawyers: The Lawyer as Counselor

The first sentence in this book says, “This is a book about choices.” This theme continues on every page with my urging you to make the deliberate decisions necessary to control your own destiny. But the right to make a decision is meaningless without an adequate understanding of its consequences. Not knowing that one branch of the road leads one off a high cliff is essentially the same as not even noticing that you passed a fork in the road. If you go off the cliff, the result is the same whether or not you actually saw that you had a choice of which road to take.

The purely logical observer, having just landed from the planet Mars, would quite rationally assume that the acquisition of the knowledge and information necessary to make sound decisions would be easy. After all, the world is full of knowledge and information. You can get vast stores of knowledge from roadmaps, guidebooks, checklists, how-to books, talk radio, and lots of friends and family who seem to have quick, simple answers to everything. But, as it turns out, there is a lot more to life than just logic, and knowledge and information are useless without the insight and understanding necessary to apply them to your own problems.

Consulting with a lawyer is your best opportunity to gain the knowledge, wisdom, and insight necessary to make good decisions in your [lawsuit].
Lawyers are trained to recognize legal issues. The very nature of law practice is the attempt to focus this legal training on the solution of specific legal problems for specific clients. Many lawyers do a pretty good job of solving these problems. Some lawyers, who did just fine in law school, never get the hang of applying legal knowledge to a specific client. None of us is perfect, and only the egomaniacs among us are always happy with their own results.

Because the outcome of every single divorce, even those that “don’t go to court,” is shaped by the courthouse and the legal system, someone working outside of that system is at a distinct disadvantage in giving advice about decisions needed to navigate that system. Courts and the legal system are realities that cannot be escaped even by those who choose to spend all of their energy focusing on “the system’s” shortcomings. It must be obvious by now that this book was written to provide people like you with knowledge and insight to aid you in obtaining your divorce. In fact, I wrote the first edition of this book because I realized that lawyers don’t always have the time to answer questions, and many clients cannot afford all of the consultation and counseling needed to get through some divorces. Of course, reading this book is consistent with my use-everything-you-can-get-your-hands-on philosophy. But, no book, no matter how good, can focus legal knowledge and insight on your specific problems.

Additionally, as I have said, in divorces as in all lawsuits, identifying legal issues and adjusting your response is a moving target because the facts change, and your opponent changes strategy, sometime from moment to moment. Only a real live lawyer interacting with you and your case can provide you with play-by-play action and help you make decisions needed to avoid the icebergs that might punch a hole in your divorce boat.

Robin M. Green, Divorce: When It’s the Only Answer (The Ordinary Mortals Guide, Inc., 2005), Chapter 12, pp. 82-84.