December 24th, 2020
Divorce can be an emotionally difficult time for some, and this can be compounded by the stress of a pending legal proceeding. Typically, retaining a lawyer for the first time can be nerve-racking. Divorce lawyers, in my view, may be divided into three categories: Clerks, Processors, and Visionaries.
Clerks are form fillers. They understand how to deal with incoming and outgoing communication with clients, court staff, and other lawyers. They know how to collect legal precedents and how to fill them out. They have a basic understanding of the law and court rules but they do not have much in the way of original thought. They understand how to complete a basic task and how to bill for it.
Processors are very skilled at navigating legal process. They are like clerks on steroids. They have an intimate knowledge of the rules of court. They have a good understanding of the law but rarely take the time to analyze what is needed to resolve a dispute. Rather, they prefer to “use” process to push matters forward. Success is measured by completing each stage of the process.
Visionaries are most skilled. They are able to counter the actions and strategies of “Clerks” and “Processors”. A visionary is good at change, improvisation, and innovation. They have an intimate knowledge of the law. They analyze with a view to determining risk and reward. Success is not a “feeling”. Visionaries recognize it.
So, how do you determine whether you need a Clerk, a Processor, or a Visionary to complete your divorce?
Logically would you might choose a Clerk if you think your divorce is simple. This would be based upon the premise that all you need is some forms filled out and do not need thought or counseling unique to your situation. You would hope that this type of service would be inexpensive but it is not. In fact, the cost to prepare divorce documentation will likely be similar whether you choose a Clerk, Processor, or Visionary.
If your goal is to exact a “pound of flesh” from your soon to be ex, you may wish to choose a Processor to handle your case. They will navigate the legal system at your behest, doing your bidding for a fee. In the end, they will achieve a result. In some cases, the result may be very advantageous. In others, the damage can be overwhelming. Much in the way of emotional and financial capital will have been spent achieving the result. Often, simply completing each step of the process does not deliver overall contentment. It takes careful analysis to satisfactorily resolve very complex matters such as parenting, asset division, and support.
Clients that require the “answer” inevitably choose a Visionary as their counsel. After all, the Visionary has all of the same skills that the Clerks and Processors have coupled with an intimate knowledge of the law. Most clients want to be counseled on the risk and reward of each course of action. They want to know the likely effect their relationship breakdown will have on parenting, property, and finances. The Visionary will provide professional analysis on all of this. They will do it at the beginning of their retainer. It equips their client with realistic expectations. These clients have the comfort of knowing that they have received a careful diagnosis of their situation and a reasonable treatment plan for resolving all issues.
The question is whether you want hire the best divorce lawyer or the best divorce lawyer for you. These are two different questions with a wide array of answers. My view is that the best divorce lawyer is a Visionary. It may be important for you, however, to take look at some other considerations.
Most of the other considerations for hiring a divorce lawyer have been extensively canvassed in BLOG articles written by other lawyers. The other qualities to look for prior to your selection are:
Often a recommendation from a friend will be a good start in finding and hiring the best divorce lawyer for you. You need to trust your lawyer and their advice. The best lawyer for you will understand your convictions. He or she will have a style that you are comfortable with and will respond to your inquiries about the law and its application to your case.
All clients want to a have a lawyer that will do their best. The fact is that every lawyer will try and represent you to the best of his or her ability. They are ethically obligated to do so. Keep in mind, however, that lawyers are not therapists. If you need one, hire a qualified psychologist. They will not cost as much as a lawyer and will provide you with better emotional and psychological support.
You must ensure that your lawyer is affordable. The best divorce lawyer will be economical and avoid waste. However, if a lawyer’s efforts (and therefore fees) are required to find the answer, the best divorce lawyer will not hesitate in communicating this to you.
Your best lawyer should dispassionately provide you with objective and timely advice. Your divorce requires a lawyer that focuses on the law and the outcomes. They should constantly evaluate and re-evaluate risk and benefit. If you find that they are not doing this, it is time to hire a different lawyer.
Anthony Young QC is a Calgary divorce lawyer with over 30 years of experience. If you are in need of a Visionary divorce lawyer in Calgary, Anthony can be reached at 403-219-4216