A public defender recently posted on her blog a horrifying video of what I believe to be a legitimate divorce lawyer advertisement. I’m not posting the video here because I do not want to be associated with the video.
The ad showcases some of the signs of a bad family lawyer. Below are some signs to watch out for when hiring a family lawyer in Chicago.
You should avoid a family lawyer who:
- Empathizes too much with your pain. If you have a stomach ache, you don’t want the doctor seeing you identifying with your pain. You want the doctor to be objective and fix your ailment. Same thing goes for lawyers.
- Doesn’t listen to you. A good lawyer should have a good understanding of your personality, desires and wishes. This can only be achieved through empathetic listening.
- Promises to avenge. Illinois laws are set up to help both divorcing parties establish themselves after a divorce. There is no place in a Chicago divorce courtroom for vengeance. Your lawyer should tell you this.
- Calls your spouse names. It is common – although not recommended – for divorcing couples to call each other names. It is unacceptable, however, for a lawyer to engage in this kind of conduct. Your lawyer should be seeking to help you view your situation objectively. Name-calling is never objective.
- Uses inflammatory language. Over the top language does not help resolve conflict. It won’t help you reach a fair outcome in your case. It only makes things worse. When used by a lawyer, inflammatory language also shows a lack of professionalism.
- Excessively criticizes other lawyers. In ideal divorces there is a lot of collaboration and trust between the opposing lawyers. A lawyer who cannot get along with other lawyers could wreak havoc on this balance. Also, these things are usually reciprocal – why don’t other lawyers like your lawyer?
- Tells you he’ll “take care” of the divorce for you. There is no divorce lawyer who can “take care” of your case while you sip a martini. Divorce is hard work for everyone involved. There are documents to produce, depositions to attend and court documents to review. Anyone who claims otherwise is not being honest.
- Predicts the future. Some parts of a case can be somewhat accurately predicted (i.e., non-custodial parent of 3 will have to pay 32% of their income in child support). Most outcomes are not so clear. In truth, outcomes are often a gamble. A lawyer who tells you they have all the answers may be full of hot air.
- Buys your blatant lies. Nobody likes a liar or a cheater. If your divorce lawyer overlooks your bad behavior it is not because they like you. They’ll drop you like a hot potato when you run out of cash.
- Does not express his views. It is a lawyer’s job to encourage clients to make the best decisions for their case. This is often in conflict with the path a client feels is best. A lawyer who does not make his views known might be doing you a great disservice.
You might also be interested in my colleague’s post on finding a good divorce lawyer in Chicago.