Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Practicing Desperation Law

Last night I wrote about the attorneys who practice family law as though it was were a tenet of faith.  Tonight I write about the attorneys who could care less.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the zealot who imposes her convictions on you lies the "I just don't give a damn attorney."  They have more important things to do, like anything else that comes through the door.

By and large, family law is considered a peculiar specialty, as if those who practice it exclusively have an affliction.  As I wrote last night, who would sign on for this misery?  So family law cases are considered a blight, though perhaps a necessary evil for the general practitioner who handles anything that comes through the door.  They handle personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal law, commercial litigation and, yes, somewhere in there, family law.  I contend that they practice "Desperation Law." They seem to state, "I just want a retainer.  Any retainer."

Family law has its own rhythm, its own groove, certainly its own body of law, and its own bar (for those few of us who practice it exclusively).  Whether we practice in the same frame of mind or approach the subject from quite different perspectives, the exclusively family law lawyer generally knows the other exclusively family law lawyer.  We usually know each others strengths, weaknesses, quirks and pecadillos.  We speak the same language.  We understand the issues without a learning curve.

For those indecisive or disinterested souls who do anything for a buck, they are forever cast on the howling winds of rapid and irreconcilable change.  One morning they are representing a criminal defendant, wrapped up in the Fourth Amendment.  The next morning, they are knee deep in a contractual clause about non-competing burger stands, and the next morning they attempt to be immersed in a bitter custody dispute.  Jack of all trades, master of none.

I know this scenario all too well.  At one time I practiced this scenario.  And family law drove me nuts.  But I learned, it drove me nuts because I wasn't just practicing family law.  I'd attend a criminal calendar call as disinterested as I could be.  I was engaged in the sport, but the passion was non-existent.  I'd attend a commercial litigation calendar call and everyone there still seemed asleep and wishing they were on the golf course.  Not a happy crew.  Then I'd attend a family law calendar call and everyone was animated, involved, deep in discussion, negotiation, maybe resolution.  All of it meaningful.  All of it vitally real.

Eventually I determined that I should only practice family law.  I won't call it a calling, hence I would run afoul of the malady I cited last night.  No, it was my passion, my skill and my drive that directed me.  That, and family law attorneys are in court most often, second only to prosecutors.  My attorneys and I are often in Court three to five times a week.  A personal injury attorney is lucky to see the inside of a courtroom three times a year.  As I've said often, I live in the Courtroom.

So family law is home.  This is where I thrive.  This is where I can do the most good. 

I don't practice desperation law.  I won't handle anything that comes through my door, except family law.  So if you have a criminal case, you can call me because I know some great criminal lawyers to refer you to.  But if you have a family law case, call me or anyone who practices exclusively in family law.  Our passion and our practice shows.

Michael Manely

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