13. Conflict out your jurisdiction’s bullies
Every city has that lawyer (or 2 or 3) known for being a terrible high-conflict, combative person who will be guaranteed to fight every step of your case. Having a high-conflict lawyer on the other side of your case is bad for you, bad for your kids, bad for your finances, and even bad for your ex.
You cannot choose who your ex will hire, but you can choose who they cannot!
For example, dealing with the tsunami of correspondence from such a high-conflict lawyer unnecessarily increases legal fees, turmoil, and stress.
My city used to have three of such lawyers. One died, one lost his mojo, and one still goes on tearing families apart, increasing legal fees, and dragging their clients through the court system. Their clients, ex-spouses, and the kids never recover it seems - either emotionally or financially.
You don’t want that.
So, what to do?
I know this is a cheeky method to ensure your spouse does not hire such a person, but it is an effective strategy. Some people think it is unethical. Again, I disagree. Having a bully lawyer disqualified from acting on a matter is a good thing.
What is unethical is a lawyer that bullies clients, their ex-spouses, and who drags parents through the court system.
Here is what I am talking about.
The background to this is that once you meet with an attorney for a consultation and discuss your situation, they are bound by solicitor-client privilege. This means they cannot share your private conversation with them with anyone else unless you agree. They are also bound only to represent you, and not anyone else, including your ex. They are duty bound to have your back, and nobody else’s.
When you meet with a lawyer (unless you agree for some reason, which is very rare and almost always ill-advised), they cannot represent your ex. This is because it would be a conflict of interest.
That is why if your city has a bully lawyer, meet with them. Make sure they are “conflicted out” and cannot represent your ex. Although some people are critical of this type of action, I disagree. When you reduce the possibility of your ex being able to hire a bully, you will also reduce the risk of your divorce being a horrible and costly experience.
Even though it may not seem like it sometimes, make no mistake that lawyers are bound by their bar or law society that requires them to follow their professional ethical guidelines. Those guidelines are very clear and they require that once a potential client has discussed their family matter with a lawyer, that the lawyer cannot discuss the case with anyone else. That anyone else includes your ex. This rule does not only apply to the lawyer you spoke to but their entire law firm. If one laws at a firm speaks with or is heard by one party in a difference, no one else at that firm can speak to the other party.
This means that if you end up consulting with a lawyer, they are now disqualified from being able to represent your ex.
As lawyers, we must have a conflict-checking system to ensure that we do not accidentally meet with two parties on the same case.