Once upon a time, there was a lawyer who had a little office in the heart
of town. Many of the town's residents brought all their legal issues
to him. He tried to help them all, no matter what kind of legal problems
they had, from family law to business law. This attorney from the days
of yore had what is called a "general practice". He specialized
in nothing, but then he didn't need to because he was just about the
only attorney in town. What he knew was good enough.
Now come with me into the modern era. We have come a long way from the
country lawyer who was just about the only attorney in town. We've
come a long way from succeeding just by knowing a little something about
everything. We've come a long way from "good enough" being
good enough. For the competent attorney today, the practice of law is
far more focused.
Today, the attorney who attempts to practice more than one area of law,
"jack of all trades, master of none," is really practicing Desparation
Law, which means that they will handle pretty much any case that comes
through the door. "I'll do anything for a fee." The other
possibility is just as bad: they're bored with just one area of practice,
so they take multiple kinds of cases just to keep themselves interested.
In other words, their entertainment is more important than being excellent
on your case.
Shelia and I were talking about these desperation law attorneys the other day.
She suggested that hiring a desperation law attorney was a little like
selecting a doctor who treats kidneys and feet when you are suffering
from a kidney ailment. If you have a kidney ailment, why wouldn't
you select a doctor who spends
all her time working just on kidney diseases? Wouldn't a kidney and foot
disease doctor only make sense if you had a kidney
and a foot disease?
And, as Shelia and my conversations sometimes go, that got us on a roll,
joking about when it might make sense to hire an attorney who practices
desparation law. For example:
* If you want to divorce the wife who just ran into you with her car, then
you might want an attorney who also practices personal injury.
* If you want to file for divorce against the husband who is a homewrecker,
then you might want an attorney who also practices construction law.
* If you want to file for divorce and get charged a fortune, then you might
want an attorney who also practices bankruptcy.
* If you want to file for divorce against the wife you've just locked
in the closet, then you might want an attorney who also practices criminal law.
* If you want to file for divorce against the husband who plans to live
in your basement, then you might want an attorney who also practices landlord-tenant
law. And finally,
* If you want to file for divorce against the spouse for whom you worked
your fingers to the bone, then you might want an attorney who also practices
Okay, I jest. Actually, you never want an attorney who can't figure
out what he wants to do or can't do it well enough to just work in
that area of practice. An attorney who is Jack of all trades, master of
none responsible for your
family law case? I think not. I suspect your case is more important to you than that.