Thursday, September 04, 2014

Excerpt from conversation on LinkedIn Integrative Law Group

Director, Executive Communications at Pace University
I once spoke to an attorney who summed up family law perfectly. He said, "In a divorce it isn't just two people getting divorced, it's the two people plus their attorneys. And any one of the four can screw up the process at any time."

To compound matters, the family court system in our country is often antiquated and ill-equipped to deal with many of the very difficult issues that litigants bring to courts these days. Attorneys who exploit every crack and loophole in this antiquated and broken system may be working in their clients' best interests, but they do nothing to refute perceptions of unprofessionalism and self-service.
Judge -- NY State Courts
Jeff -- well said. I do believe that lawyers should advocate wholeheartedly for their clients, but there is a line to be drawn in the sand. We need to remember that we are professionals who are trained to legally strategize the issues. Acting as street fighters demeans yourself as well as the profession you represent.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Court As A Last Resort

Got a dispute? With the cleaners, the shoemaker, the neighbor, or even a family member? We are talking money here, or losses incurred from property damage. My advice: the last place to go is to court.

The first place to go is a conversation with the party who "wronged" you. I can hear the groans and envision the eye-rolling of the cynics. Trust me, the key is communication. Court is time-consuming, expensive, and nerve-wracking, and, once there, you will have to have that conversation, anyway. There is one major difference, however; the court, and I mean, the judge, decides the outcome.

At court, there is generally only one winner and, hence, a resultant loser. One party leaves happy, the other, deflated. A possibility lies in the realm outside the system where you and your antagonist may reach a satisfactory resolution. Since you must face the inevitable conversation, then it makes sense to initiate it on your own and eliminate the additional expenses that tally at court.

Here's the tip: practice what you must do at court, i.e., to stay calm. Focus on the problem - the loss, the damage - and not your personal vendetta against your antagonist. Whatever you may think of his/her/their behavior is not the issue. It will take some effort, but that's what works.

Believe me, most of the issues that come before me as judge could, and should, have been resolved outside the court's jurisdiction. What have you got to lose? If you lose your cool or cannot settle the dispute, you can always come to court.