People often ask me: “How do you maintain being objective about your clients and their cases?”
What I say to that is: "I’m not objective."
Being objective brings up feelings of being dispassionate, detached, disinterested, cold, unemotional, and strictly business. These feelings belong nowhere in the practice of family law. They may be great if you're a computer scientist or lab technician, but a lawyer who is practicing family law? No way. Every single family law problem comes up within the context of a family. Family law cases are about way more than money. They are about relationships, pain, growth, and most importantly, the children.
I believe that the best divorce lawyers are tied into their clients’ cases with their hearts. Sure, great lawyers need to have the ability analyze our clients' positions. We need to look at the facts of our clients' cases and give them good advice about how to proceed based upon the law. For that we need to provide an analysis. At the same time, the legal analysis we provide must be attached to the context of each of our clients' families. For that, we need to tap into our compassion.
Our clients retain us because they are making decisions about the most important parts of their lives, and I'm not talking about their financial futures. They are making decisions about how they're going to parent their children and interact with their children's other parent for years to come. Make no mistake that these decisions will impact these families for generations.
What is the opposite of objective? Thesaurus.com comes up with words like interested, involved, compassionate, and warm.
I am not suggesting for a second that we let the experience of our clients' emotions yank us all over the place. What I am suggesting is that being emotionally intelligent and connected to the work we do makes us the most capable of lawyers.
A number of weeks ago I was accused of not being objective about my clients’ custody matter. And of course, I’m not. That’s not my goal. In my family law cases, if my client feels that they have to go to the judge to get an intervention for their child’s safety and well-being, that’s not a place for objectivity. It’s a place for us to connect. And that’s when I connect to the heart of my client and imagine what the situation may be like for the child.
It’s also important to remember that, if we are litigating a situation and we’re in front of a judge, that judge might also have a family. And the best way to convince the judge of what’s in the best interest of your client and their child is by tapping into their non-objectivity. By tapping into their experience, their family, and their heart.
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By Val Hemminger, a non-objective Family Law lawyer.
Val has created this website to share with her colleagues. She is not suggesting, by any means, that she is the best divorce lawyer out there. She is, however, suggesting that she is the best divorce lawyer that she herself can be. Feel free to share anything you find useful.