Tonight's post was written by our Savannah family law attorney,
Today marks the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby. Unfathomable amounts of money gets spent
every year on this sporting event in which the race itself lasts all of
approximately two minutes (sandwiched between a good 2+ hours of television
coverage). What makes this race so compelling is that despite all of the
work the handicappers put into figuring out the odds and which horse is
favored, almost anything can happen, and frequently does.
Maybe, as happened this year, the early favorite gets an unfavorable gate
assignment and is starting from the outside). Maybe, an unexpected thunderstorm
passes through hours before the race, rendering the track a muddy, sloggy
mess and the favorite a day ago really just can't perform well under
those conditions. Maybe the crowd and the noise and the jockey's nerves
do a number on a horse. Or maybe those same factors cause a horse that
few thought had a chance to win, come from nowhere and defy the odds makers.
It often seems like the favorite winds up being all flash and, in the heat
of battle, fizzles and falls short of being the first across the line.
In short, the handicappers can spend every possible minute analyzing every
aspect of the race, but at the end of it all, it really does not matter.
There were too many variables.
Family law cases aren't dissimilar. There are many, many constantly
moving parts to a family law case and the story told at trial is one that
has evolved constantly, and often literally up until the moments before
the gavel has fallen and trial begins.
On many occasions, I have experienced a figurative "thunderstorm"
moving over the case hours beforehand and the story of the case has changed
dramatically because of a last minute communication between the parties.
Some new revelation in the case has occurred and suddenly a case that
was solid now has a crack with little time to make adjustments.
I recently consulted with a potential client whose case had already gone
to trial and been decided by the judge. A rather large and very important
fact developed in the weeks leading up to the trial. The potential client's
attorney at the time practiced in almost
every conceivable practice area in which an attorney could dabble (criminal defense, personal injury, creditor/debtor, landlord/tenant,
local government, small business, bankruptcy, and, yes, family law). Unfortunately
for this potential client, her attorney had been unable to make the last
minute adjustments needed in the case to deal with the new facts that
arose. The thunderstorm came moments before the big race, and as a result
there is now a rather large knot to untangle with potentially devastating
results for this poor potential client.
I'm not saying that there aren't very good family law attorneys
who also practice in other areas of the law. I know of a few. I do, though,
know that our collective group of attorneys have performed in most any
conceivable condition in the heat of competition and so, when something
happens at the last moment before trial, we have the experience to adapt
and to adjust. These last minute changes can have long lasting effects
on the client and on the family.
So enjoy your mint juleps, your floppy hats, your seersucker, and your
roses today. More than anything, enjoy the last second changes that wind
up changing a horse's story forever.
But try never to be that horse. Or, if you become that horse, at least
make sure you come home with the roses.