The Dark Side of the Force

The Dark Side of the Force

Posted By Michael Manely || 3-Jan-2016

These are exciting times. Our country is at such a juncture that either path we take will propel us in radically different directions. Interestingly, we are at the same juncture in family law, as well.

Over the holidays, I spent many pleasurable hours with family and with extended family. During all that time, we caught up, we swapped war stories and we shared bits and pieces of ourselves. Recently, while watching a college football game, I became a tad bit embroiled in an argument (are you surprised) between distant cousins of mine. The argument arose from a defensive player ramming his helmet full force into the breast bone of the quarter back. The referee charged the defensive player with “targeting” and excluded him from the game.

Cousin 1 came unglued. “College ball will become flag football.”
Cousin 2 responded, “That’s a dangerous play. He could have hurt that boy.”
Cousin 1 retorted, “So what, that quarterback signed on to play, didn’t he.”
Here’s where I got involved, “Now you can’t tell me that your entertainment includes watching boys getting injured. That’s not fun.”
Cousin 1, “It’s football. It’s dangerous. That’s part of what makes it fun.”

Cousin 2 and I just looked at Cousin 1. So did his wife. We were wondering what happened to his soul. When did he become so dark?

Life imitates art. Star Wars poignantly posits good and evil. I am forever amazed at the people who adore, who follow Darth Vader. I am very interested to see how many will now follow Kylo Ren, despite his despicable deeds. As we know, a significant number of our countrymen believe the dark side is the better path, or at least the more entertaining one. Which is really the same thing.

And as art applies to life, in our country, we are facing the same choices. Shall we entertain and be entertained by the dark forces of division, of deprivation, of destruction? Shall we follow the politics and the doctrines of hate? Is this our best course? To many of our countrymen, the answer is “yes.”

Family law plays out the same way. For too many of my attorney peers, the practice of scorched earth is the only valid practice. Theirs is a winner take all approach, a world view of scarcity, greed and hate. For those of us who practice for the betterment of the family, for a peaceful resolution, for closure and healing, we are in constant battle with these forces of evil.

Family law plays out that god-like drama, good versus evil, at many turns. As our economy improves, I am watching the return of the scorched earthers. As their clients have more money, these attorneys have less scruples. With more money in the pipeline, the pipeline becomes more laden with armaments of war.

In family law, we are at a juncture where we can continue to improve divorce practice, making it client centric and cost efficient. Or we can return to a day of bleak despair where the only people benefitting from the practice are the attorneys. We have made such strides toward reformation of our system so that it better serves our families. Let us not back-slide into the dark ages of family law.

Lord, or judges, save us from these unscrupulous, dark age attorneys.

Actually, that’s my job. And tomorrow starts another year. To the work, then! And may the Force be with us.

Michael Manely

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