At least once a week, someone calls my office looking for a new lawyer. Their current lawyer, for some reason, is not meeting their needs. As a client, you have every right to switch lawyers so the right person is advocating for you. But if you do not understand the different types of lawyers, your new lawyer may not be any more helpful than the old one.
A conversation like this happens all the time in my world….
Client: I hired a top lawyer, and they screwed up my case.
Me: Why did you hire them?
Client: Because they are the best.
Me: Did you talk to different types of lawyers before deciding they were the right one for you?
Client: Well…..no. I just needed a lawyer.
A dentist may be a phenomenal dentist, but would you go to them for brain surgery?
A banker is great with money, but would you have them do your taxes?
It is possible the lawyer you hired really is great. They may have been great for the person who referred them to you. They are just not the right type of lawyer for you.
So the question is, what kind of lawyer do you need?
When it comes to family law attorneys, I can generally narrow them down into 3 different categories based on what I have observed and what my clients have told me. When looking for a lawyer, it is important to know which of these types you want working for you.
You have probably heard of lawyers referred to as “sharks” or “bulldogs.” They are the punch line in most lawyer jokes.
Sharks will squeeze the legal system for every single thing you can possibly do. They file lots of motions, set lots of hearings, and do a lot of discovery. Sharks are rarely interested in settling a case that can be litigated at trial. They focus on what aspects of your story can be used to trigger legal action.
A Shark will make sure that you have done everything you can possibly do within the legal system – filed the motions, done the depositions, and subpoenaed the records. Because of this, they tend to be very expensive with varying returns. If you have enough money, then you may be able to dominate their time and attention. Running out of money during your case may leave you representing yourself in a very litigious situation.
If your case is highly contested and you want to give the other side a real run for their money, then you want a Shark representing you. Sharks also tend to play well with each other, so they work best when both sides have the same type of lawyer. Sharks will see your case as a “win” or a “loss” depending on the outcome.
I have noticed that clients complain the most about sharks for being impersonal. If you are looking for a shark, then I will openly admit that I am not the lawyer for you.
A lawyer’s job is to answer questions and provide guidance while leaving the ultimate decisions in the hands of the client. The Facilitator focuses on this role and personalizes their legal knowledge to your life circumstances.
Facilitators will focus first and foremost on your goals. Once they know what you want to achieve and accomplish in family court, they will use the tools of the legal system to help you bring that about. Facilitators will take litigious action when necessary, but will focus on settling your case in a way that is conducive to your larger goals.
A Facilitator will give you the benefit of their guidance and experience, then leave all the major decisions up to you. They take charge of doing the legal work to act on your decisions. People describe the Facilitator’s fees as being reasonable. The biggest complaint I have heard about Facilitators is that they are too blunt when saying something that you might not want to hear. They work best with clients who appreciate honesty.
If you have larger goals than just getting through a divorce or custody battle, then a Facilitator may be the lawyer for you. Like Sharks, Facilitators tend to play well together, so it helps if the lawyers on both sides are motivated to reach a settlement.
I take on the role of a Facilitator when clients retain me for legal representation.
At its core, the legal system is designed for everyone with or without professional help. The Coach helps you represent yourself in court when you just need a little bit of guidance along the way.
A Coach is only as involved in your case as you want them to be. You may meet with them just once or you may choose to coach with them regularly. Coaches tend to play well with Facilitators since clients who choose a Coach are generally looking for amicable resolutions.
A Coach will do things like review documents, develop strategy, and talk you through courtroom procedure. They seek to empower you to be your own best advocate without missing little details that only a lawyer would otherwise know to look for. Coaching is by far the least expensive option for legal help. People benefit from coaching when they are ready and willing to take full responsibility for where they are and plow forward to where they want to go. Critics of coaching get overwhelmed by the amount of action they need to take on their own. Clients who need someone else to blame when things don’t go their way will not work well with a Coach.
This is perhaps my favorite role because of the extraordinary results I see in clients who choose legal coaching.
The Right Lawyer for You
Remember: not all lawyers are created equal.
Finding the right lawyer is like finding the right doctor or counselor. You want someone who practices the area of law you need help with and someone who works the way you need them to. There are lots of very good lawyers out there, but that does not necessarily make them the best lawyer for you.
What you need may change over time, and if that is the case, then there is nothing wrong with switching to a different type of lawyer. This kind of shift happens all the time, especially if your goals for the case change over time. The most important thing is finding a lawyer who will help you the way you need to be helped.
To talk with Rachna one-on-one to see if she is the right lawyer for you, follow this link to schedule a complimentary case review call. You can learn more about The Lien Law Firm, LLC online at www.LienLawFirm.com.