The Emotional Side Of Practicing Law: Managing Family Law Clients
Managing clients is one of a family law lawyer’s most difficult, demanding, and challenging tasks. Family cases, or conflicts, pit two people who formerly had a close, loving, intimate relationship against each other. All at a time when the distance between them couldn’t be farther and their ability to reach a consensus couldn’t be less.
A family law attorney must have the skill set to deal with clients on a psychological level and nurture them while they are in a highly emotional state. And all while trying to act in the best interests of any minor children. How and where does a law student learn these types of skills? Experience seems to be the only logical answer unless he or she happens to have a degree in psychology. Remember, common sense always goes a long way.
The job of a family law attorney is to address the needs and goals of the client. It also helps to have a sympathetic ear. Letting a client vent his or her anger, frustration, or depression helps foster a closer attorney-client relationship. A close relationship can help the client more openly disclose relevant facts that will benefit his or her case. It will help the client believe that the attorney is truly on his or her side on a much more emotional and connected level.
However, a good family attorney must always remain calm, cool, and collected, especially when emotions may be excessive. It is the attorney’s responsibility to ensure that the client does not make a hasty, irrational decision, nor that the attorney does either for that matter.
Thus, family law attorneys must be closer to their clients than attorneys in most other areas of law. While it is important for a family law attorney to cultivate a certain closeness with a client, she shouldn’t get too close.
There are many factual and fictional accounts of family law attorneys becoming romantically involved with their clients for an obvious reason: clients are exiting a romantic relationship, possibly a long-term relationship, and the attorney is advocating on the client’s behalf against a former partner, perhaps seen as a knight in shining armor.
With emotions already at a peak, the attorney-client relationship may cause a client to develop romantic feelings that may not otherwise have manifested. The cold, hard truth of it is that anyone practicing family law long enough will more than likely have one client who makes a romantic advance in some subtle, or not-so-subtle way. Family Law attorneys beware!
The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) provides both the hard and soft skills that attorney-advocates require to meet the needs of clients in the 21st Century. At CDTA, we train, educate, and develop students to be exceptional attorneys and trial advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.