“Sharks”, “Tigers”, “Pit Bulls”….. all names of animals who instinctively act aggressively. It’s their nature to react to a perceived threat with violence. These are also names that we give attorneys who raise their voice, intimidate witnesses, talk rudely over opposing counsel, lecture judges, posture and threaten and bury the opposing party in needless pleadings and discovery. These are the attorneys that courtroom dramas are made of and as a consequence many people believe that this type of “pit bull” lawyer is the best representation that they could have to protect their interests in a divorce situation.
In reality, this could’t be further from the truth. Attorneys who use these types of tactics are often the least effective in obtaining good results for their clients and can often cost their clients thousands of extra dollars in legal fees. Let me assure you, that while a “pit bull’s” client may be impressed with his outbursts, the Court and opposing counsel are not.
Courts listen most to attorneys who present their argument clearly, calmly and based on fact, reason and law. Attorneys who tell the truth, are well prepared, and have exhausted every possibility of settlement before approaching the Court are respected and heard. Those attorneys who have earned the reputation for wisdom, level-headedness and preparation have the professional respect of judges and other attorneys, which only helps their clients. Those who are known for their dramatic antics often are met with an eye roll!
An effective attorney knows that just because you can file a pleading, doesn’t mean you should. They know which pleadings are necessary to advocate their client’s position. They practice law in a manner that balances legal realities with the expense to the client and make sure that their client clearly understands their choices. An effective attorney facilitates settlements of all issues that can and should be resolved by agreement before approaching the Court for relief and avoids hard litigation tactics-especially in family law cases. Hard litigation tends to exacerbate the emotions of the parties and further polarize them in what is already a difficult situation.
As humans-unlike sharks, tigers and pit bulls, we are blessed with a wonderful brain. We have the capacity to use wisdom and resist base emotions. We have the ability to reason and use our knowledge to respond to perceived threats. We do not have to rely on instinct alone to guide us. When you have legal challenges, its best to face them with wise counsel by your side acting from knowledge, not an uncontrollable pit bull.