What is Important in a Family Law Attorney

David T Bunger, Attorney at Law

What is Important in a Family Law Attorney

Surprisingly, I get asked this question quite a bit.  It seems that at the core of the question, prospective clients are concerned with the aggressiveness of their potential attorney.  As I listen to the prospective clients speak of their situation, I can feel their pain, anguish and need for revenge or at least their desire to put their soon to be ex in his or her place.  But, is aggressiveness the answer?  I don’t think so.  I think well thought out planning and assertiveness is the most effective way to achieve best probable outcomes. 

An attorney who is gifted in the courtroom and equally armed in the art of negotiation is far more effective than an attorney who is merely aggressive.  Sure it is important to have an attorney that is not timid or shy, but that is a far cry from an attorney who is aggressive.  Of course, I may be splitting hairs here, but Dallas area Divorce or Family Law attorneys who have the reputation of being aggressive do not typically have the added reputation of being effective.  In fact, I have observed far too often that the aggressive type attorney actually can get in the way of progress and efficient disposition of the case. 

I find these traits in a Family and Divorce attorney to be very important:

1.         Understanding of the law:  It all really starts here with this very important trait.  A family and Divorce attorney must understand the law.  The Texas Family Code is complex and the scope of successful representation of a client with divorce or other family law matters rests fully on the attorney’s understanding of the statutes and how to interpret them with respect to the facts at issue.                      

2.         Out of the Box Thinking:  An effective Family and Divorce attorney must be able to think outside the box and entertain ideas that may not fall squarely within the constructs of the “run of the mill” or conventional outcomes for their clients.  Being creative in offering ideas to resolve issues with the parties involved in heated custody battles or property division can be very effective.  And, as long as the “out of the box” terms are agreed upon by the parties and are not illegal or unconscionable, Courts are very accommodating and will likely approve most agreements.  In my practice I am constantly coming up with ideas that are not typically mainstream but are effective in getting both parties to meet on common ground and find a non-contentious way to resolve their issues.  My clients and often the opposing counsel and parties find this to be refreshing.

3.         Must Remain Calm: That applies to the attorneys not just to the parties involved in Divorce and Child Custody cases in North Texas.  Attorneys must balance zealously representing their client with keeping there demeanor under control.  It just creates far too many repercussions having an attorney whose premise is that “if I am being contentious and aggressive then I am zealously representing my clients.”  Nonsense.  Often times that sort of thinking destroys opportunist to resolve issues.   Attorneys practicing in family law must be skilled litigators.  They must possess the willingness and the fortitude to fight hard battles in the courtroom and stand firm in mediation and in negotiations with opposing counsel. However, staying calm is essential in fully representing the issues for ones clients.

4.         Client Management: This is so important and yet many attorneys are unsuccessful with client management.  I am not just talking about assisting a client with their behavior and emotions during a family law matter.  That is critical, but it is not the only facet of client management.  An attorney must communicate with their client about their case, such as; the probable pitfalls in their case, things that are working, things that are not working and what the plan is that will lead to the most favorable outcome.  This does not mean that a lawyer must spend hours a day discussing the case with their client.  That is wasteful and unnecessary.  However, effective communication is a must.  I find that when clients understand what is going on, they are much more capable of controlling their emotions and their behavior, even when things may not be going exactly the way they would like.  And of course, when clients understand that how they behave can have a direct influence on what happens to their case, this too can have a calming effect.