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Your lawyer and opposing counsel are friends? That's a good thing! Another reason to use Collaborative Divorce.

Clients ask me about this a lot, and this article, "My Lawyer and Opposing Counsel Are Friends – Should I Worry?" by a Pensacola, Florida personal injury lawyer at idonotwanttobeyourlawyer.com, answers it very well.

A case always goes better for both clients if the lawyers are friends. Just as in sports, being friends off-the-field doesn't keep you from playing hard and playing to win. In fact it spurs it on. Many clients are suspicious of everything in the legal system, and wonder if I can advocate effectively with a lawyer who I'm friends with. Heck, yes. I don't know how you are with your friends, but being friends with someone makes me more likely, not less, to "call BS" on them when needed or even warn them if they seem to be doing something unethical.

Lawyers in a Collaborative Law group are especially likely to be friends. When I first started recruiting members to form our local collaborative group back in 2002, I went to friends of mine who weren't pushovers, who were civil, fair, creative but vigorous advocates for their clients as well as for the entire family. That is the kind of service I wanted the collaborative law group to give to clients. I knew that if the collaborative group was touchy-feely and airy-fairy instead of working out practical solutions for both clients' needs, it would reflect badly on me and would not reflect the kind of service I want to provide.

It also helps to understand that family law is different from the fields like personal injury and criminal law which give most people their impression of lawyers. Lawyers in those fields only represent one side: plaintiffs or defendants, the accused or the state. Each side has its own separate bar groups, and a significant number of such lawyers feel they have more to gain than to lose by looking like scorched-earth warriors who have no collegiality or comaraderie with the other side. In family law, nearly all lawyers represent both "sides" in different cases, however you define the "sides": men vs. women, leaver vs. left, richer vs. poorer, worker vs. drone, foreign vs. native, or as prominent Virginia lawyer Ilona Grenadier once summed up a case for a judge, "This time he's got the whiner and I've got the bastard".  We deal with the same legal issues, client behaviors, and problems from all different "sides."

My Lawyer and Opposing Counsel Are Friends – Should I Worry?

Comments

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Great post. Quite frankly, I would want the family lawyers to be friends. The last thing I would want is the lawyers settling their own scores through my dispute. I can't even begin to imagine how that would ramp up costs!

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