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Aggressive Isn't Always Best

Why not choose the most aggressive attorney to fight for me?

Selecting a divorce attorney is not only one of the first steps in a divorce, it is one of the most critically important steps.  Some people believe that selecting an aggressive divorce attorney will help them succeed in their case, since an aggressive lawyer would fight harder. This is simply not the truth. While it is true that a divorce lawyer should be a zealous advocate for their client, they must also be a responsible and reasonable counselor providing their clients sound legal advice based on research and experience. Below is a list of reasons that aggressive attorneys may actually cause more harm than good.

  • Reputation: Unnecessarily aggressive lawyers sometimes have a poor reputation among fellow legal professionals. Their overly aggressive tactics may cause other lawyers to not want to work with them. This is important because as divorce attorneys, it is our job to provide counsel to our clients and resolve their case. Most divorce cases do not make it to trial; they are resolved through negotiations done by the attorneys. If a divorce lawyer has a reputation for being overly aggressive or difficult, other lawyers may be more hesitant to make settlement offers. 
  • Judges  & Court Staff: Being overly aggressive, especially in the court room, could generate a negative opinion by the judges and court staff. Being unnecessarily aggressive in the court room could cause judges to believe that the lawyer is being frivolous, excessively litigious and unnecessarily lengthening the case through protracted litigation. As a result, the judges and court staff may naturally respond more adversely to an aggressive lawyer’s requests.
  • Compromise: Another problem is the aggressive attorney’s unwillingness to negotiate and compromise. Barring very unusual circumstances, it is very unlikely for one party to receive full custody in child custody, their choice on the amount of child support and alimony and the marital residence and all the marital property. An attorney that is unwilling to compromise is fighting for an outcome that is unlikely to occur. Therefore, they are unnecessarily lengthening your divorce case and racking up charges along the way while refusing to compromise or settle. If a lawyer is unwilling to compromise even when it would lead to the best outcome for their client, then that lawyer is not properly advocating for their client.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: An overly aggressive lawyer often fails to provide their client with realistic assessments of their case and will often inflate a client’s expectations on what the realistic outcome of the case could be. The lawyer’s job is to listen their clients, assess the facts and evidence of the case and provide their client with a realistic and honest assessment of their case. Based on this assessment, the lawyer should also discuss what the likely realistic outcome of the case could be. Unnecessarily aggressive attorneys will sometimes encourage their clients not to settle and push their clients to trial all while pumping up that client’s expectations for an unrealistic result. At the end of the case, the client spent far more than they should have and the client is unhappy because the outcome they expected did not happen
  • Increasing Costs: Divorce costs and attorney’s fees compound as a case drags on. This is because attorneys bill by the hour. Therefore, the more the case drags on, the more time the attorney has to spend trying to resolve the case. More time equals a higher bill. An overly aggressive lawyer’s inability to compromise and settle the case leads to a longer path to resolution. Further, if the case makes it to trial because an aggressive lawyer refused to compromise to entertain a settlement, the costs associated with preparing for trial and expert witness fees can really cause a divorce to become unnecessarily expensive. 

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