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10 Ethical Business Practice Examples for Divorce lawyers

Ethical business practice examples? Who needs those?

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Of course, we all wish to be ethical in our law practice. Being a divorce attorney requires the usual ethical considerations as in don’t rip off your clients and don’t create unnecessary conflict to make sure you increase billings, etc.

However, being ethical as a divorce lawyer requires much more than the usual run-of-the-mill, lawyer-ethic stuff. Being a divorce lawyer is a gigantic responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. As divorce lawyers, our work impacts the future of families, the future of our client’s finances, the future of our client’s children, and even the future of our client’s children’s children. Whoa, I know. It is a lot. 

Are you wondering where and how ethical business practice examples apply to your law practice? Well, here are some ideas:


The 10 Ethical Business Practice Examples:

  1. No Blabbing:  We must not lab about your client’s stuff:  We all gotta maintain client confidentiality. Unless the client consents, there is an absolute cone of silence around everything, and I mean everything they share with us. 
  2. No Bogus:  We must have a no bogus policy. That is, we must  not tell our clients what they want to hear. We must tell them the way it is even it means telling them “bad news.” It is way better to be bluntly honest with our clients than it is to give them false hope about an outcome they are unlikely to achieve. 
  3. No Conflict of Interest:  We must not act in a conflict of interest. If we have even a hint of what can appear to be a conflict of interest, we have to let our clients know. Even if it means that we will lose them as a client. 
  4. Transparency about fees: In my office we bill clients each week, yep, each week. They get a clear breakdown of what we are billing for in each and every account. Even if they owe us $10 they get billed for that week. That way, if they have a question or concern about their account, it is dealt with. There is nothing worse for your client relationship than waiting 10 months and then sending them a bill for something they had long forgotten about it. 
  5. Stay in communication with your client and other lawyers:  We must be in communication with our clients always. I remember when I was a baby lawyer, I was really stuck on what to do with a case. So I procrastinated and then when my client tried to communicate with me, I stuck my head in the sand. This only enraged my client. It ended up being way worse than if I had just communicated that I was stuck and was looking for insight on how to deal with the issue. Even a “I will get back to you next week with the information” is better than no response at all. 
  6. Get qualified to be a mediator:  When you get qualified to be a mediatior, you will get extensive dispute resolution training. We must have extensive dispute resolution training in order to keep our clients out of court, and to negotiate great settlements. It also helps our clients move on and move on by avoiding unnecessary legal fees. 
  7. We must always do the right thing: This is one of the big ethical business practice examples. The right thing is not about us, but about our clients and the best interest of them and their kids. Just recently I had a case where I realized my ego was in the way of me resolving a dispute. Let’s just say the lawyer on the other side is someone that I find immensely irritating. She was taking a position that was incorrect in law and I wanted to take her to task on the issue. I wanted to “show her” by making a court application (that I am certain I would have won). It was my brillian legal assistant Bruno who asked if I was letting my ego getting in the way of a resolution. The parties were only a couple thousand dollars apart, and the court application would have cost her more than that. It would have cost the client even though I was “in the right.” So I recommended that we settle and teh client is much happier. Sometimes the “right thing” is sucking it up and getting to an agreement that allows our clients to move on with their lives. 
  8. Be on time: Being late makes you look unprofessional. It irritates your clients and other professionals you deal with. Even if you don’t mean it, it makes you seem disrespectful to the person or people you leave waiting. I remember one lawyer that I used to work with. She was constantly late. She showed up to court late, to our meetings late, and left clients waiting for her well past their allotted appointment time. Eventually, I felt I could not work with her anymore. It caused way too much stress for me, the office staff, and our clients. If you are the kind of person who runs late for things, trick yourself into being on time. To get from my house to my office, it takes 15 minutes, but I always set an alarm for 30 minutes before any in-office meeting so that I am never late. 
  9. Do what you say you are going to do when you say you will do it: It makes people crazy when we commit to doing something and then not do it. The best way to do that is set an appointment in your schedule to ensure everything gets done. 
  10. Don’t always follow your client’s instructions! If your client is instructing you to do the wrong thing, that is make an unnecessary court application, bully the other party or lawyer, or take an unreasonable legal position, refuse to do it. It is your reputation that is on the line. If your client fires you for not doing the wrong thing, so be it.

Where have you struggled with ethics in your practice? Our ever-changing legal arena is host to new challenges all the time. 

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