Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Scrooge on Divorce

Scrooge observes that it's the job  of a good matrimonial lawyer to bring his client round to the view that it's only money.    I'll drink to that with a couple of large qualifications.   One, my guess is that the client in the divorce case is nearly always disappointed--win or lose, they end with broken dreams, or insufficient revenge.  Corollary: many of these clients really like to fight.  There are any number of reasons why this may be so.  One, for a good many clients fighting is the only way they ever really related.  The adrenaline flows faster in a mode of conflict and they'll feel bereft when it is gone.  And two, there's a segment of the client base (perhaps overlapping with the first) that simply won't feel vindicated unless they get to participate in (enjoy) some theatre.  It's one reason why allegations of spousal child abuse began to crop up after we abandoned fault divorce: without fault, you had to go looking for a whole new avenue to allow you to tell the court that your ex pulls the wings off butterflies.

A second reason why these cases are so unconstructive is that the way to become a successful divorce lawyer is to get a reputation as a prick.  Indeed, this may be one field where the losers generate more business than the winners: oh, get the guy who represented my ex wife.  He took me for every penny I've got....   Conciliatory dealmakers need not apply.

[Statement of interest: Yes, I did go through a divorce--once, back many years ago.  But no, I am not speaking from bitter experience.  Our imbroglio at least for me was pretty amiable.  I suspect the dominant reason may have been that we were both pretty much done with each other and ready to move on.]  

1 comment:

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

And I'll drink to our good host with a modest qualification. I think that there are three kinds of divorce clients: assholes, badly hurt people, and people who just want to get it over.

The first class seeks pricks as divorce lawyers. The second class seeks social-worker types as divorce lawyers. (These are the ones who train their clients that it's only about the money.) The third class just wants a good and quick technician.

You get the most godawful divorces when you have pricks on both sides or where there is serious money. Otherwise, the non-prick lawyers know how to handle the pricks, although it may drag the process out a bit. After all, the lawyers on both sides know that the judge just wants to split the pot and move the docket.

(No, I haven't been divorced and don't do matrimonial law. But I tend to be the lawyer-friend of people who are going through the process.)