Reality Check

John J. Nazarian
March 4, 2008

reality checkFor all you who say that I am always on the side of the little Mrs., here is one for both sides! I have been noticing a very interesting pattern of behavior in some BIG LAW FIRMS. This is the cycle of life and one of the great financial massages I have seen in years!

You, the client, are being unreasonable in what to expect in the end or even during the process of getting DIVORCED. You will also notice that I use the word DIVORCE; the softer word is Dissolution of Marriagehmm, do you want to get shot with a .45 or a 44 magnum?! Well, I have to tell you all something — dealing with some of you is darn near impossible when it comes to reality. So here is the massage (no, I am not misspelling message, but there is one here):

The junior associate that you get assigned to will bill the hell out of you and then report his or her good deeds to the partners. This is the same Jr that will agree with darn near all of your stupid questions and what you are going to demand in your settlement. They will take all of the calls and the ramblings and they will listen, and while taking notes they will be working the meter. That is what you see on the bill. You know, those .20 and 1.40 hours and the big $$$$ next to those times on your statement.

Yes sireeee, you are paying for all of those phone calls, as you should. Here is the rub: it is the Jr who will listen and agree and may even feed into your fantasies. “Yes, you are right,” “Oh you do need $3000.00 a month for diapers,” “yes, we can make him pay,” “the court will do blah blah blah” and on and on. All Bullshit and Roses!

So the “Jr” does all the listening and agreeing with your ridiculous expectations, and you got billed for all of it. Then the partner comes in and looks at you over his or her glasses and tells you that you are not getting any of that, and further — you will have to save your old bed sheets to use as diapers! The “Jr” pumps you up and the partner drop kicks you into reality, and you feel like you’ve been smacked right between the eyes much of the time! How about that?! And at some point you will catch a whiff of what has been generated, and that you are being strung along, and that is when you begin the search for your next legal beagle to drag you back to reality.

Is this the fault of the lawyers? I say not; sometimes it is the only way anyone can handle the onslaught of misery that comes with practicing family law. If you are foolish enough to treat your lawyer as your therapist/cheerleader/new best friend, don’t forget that the meter is running all the while you sing your songs of woe and spin revenge fantasies out loud. If you’re not sure when you’re being charged, ASK! If you think it’s unethical for them to be taking you to the cleaners when you’re vulnerable and desperate, WAKE UP! Yes, you are paying them to look out for your interests, but they aren’t altruistic. There is always going to be some degree of conflict between your best interest and your lawyer’s financial interest, and YOU are the one who has to watch out for when that line is being crossed.

But too often I see clients acting like passive doormats and letting their lawyers get away with “murder.” One lawyer who was representing one of my clients never did anything till he showed up in court! He was never prepared, and would shuffle through papers and pull out the laptop and type away in court, trying to pull things together while waiting for the case to be called. But he had a great smile and line of bologna that would make Oscar Mayer proud. I saw it right away, and even sent him a letter telling him how incompetent he was. People, you have to know what to expect and keep your case on track. And if you cannot do it, I can; I have been sitting in the “Captain’s Chair” many times watching and listening and telling my client what she or he may want to consider, and hope they take the advice. And yes, I too am getting paid, and why not if I can save you some money and help you get through this maze of insanity, and be present and listen to all the nonsense. I am worth it most of the time!

All right, Ladies and Gents! Send me your comments and I will see you in the hallway at the courthouse!

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