Fan Service in Family Law

Fan Service in Family Law

Posted By Megan McClinton, Marietta Family Law Attorney || 20-Jun-2016

What is Fan Service in Family Law, you ask.  If you don’t speak nerd you’ve probably never heard the term “fan service”. Allow me to elucidate. Fan service is material in anime and manga that (duh) services fans by often providing gratuitous or suggestive sexuality or violence (“Food Wars” or “Elfen Lied”), flirting between main characters (“Inuyasha”), or epic fight scenes (“Fairy Tail”). We can see this in Western media via “easter eggs” in comic books or the car chases in the Fast and Furious films or even those grand space craft scenes in Star Wars. Fan service is hyperbolic eye candy that makes us cheer, laugh, blush, or just feel like the author/director/artist is looking out for us and what’ll make us happy.

A lot of anime and manga fans, including myself, tend to stay away from stories that have a lot of fan service (although I loved “Elfen Lied” and am a big fan of Hiro Mashima’s “Fairy Tail”, sans all the filler). It can be fun on occasion, but I find that it detracts from the quality of the art or writing and becomes distracting. I love good stories and good storytelling.

And yes, there’s fan service in the practice of law. There are certain situations, conduct, and materials that I’ve noticed gets clients hyped up – in good ways and bad ways. Here are some common fan service situations I’ve come across in my Marietta family law practice:

  • Grandstanding – this is where the attorney sucks all the oxygen out of the room. He/She is the loudest person on the floor, they object to EVERYTHING, they pace and aggressively interrogate witnesses on the stand, they throw personal insults against the opposing party. This is fan service because it plays into all those tired tropes of what an attorney does and how they advocate for clients, and seems to be what a lot of clients are looking for when they’re hiring an attorney. There’s nothing wrong, per se, about this style of practice. There is also nothing right about it. Be aware of mistaking all that puffery for quality. This is often a gimmick masking poor performance.
  • “Angry lawyer” – where attorneys, in the presence of their clients, refuse to cooperate and resolve problems with their opposing counsel and go so far as to be insulting and derogatory towards their opposing counsel. The angry lawyer makes their client feel that their own anger is justified and an appropriate means of communication.  It's a trick to get you to write a large check.
  • The Geek – using big words and legalese to make yourself sound like Clarence Darrow to your client or the opposing party. A part of this is necessary – legal words exist for a reason and it’s often necessary to explain critical concepts that are both legal, and therefore precise, and more layman, and therefore more comprehensible. Some lawyers go too far with it, but others recognize that it’s a necessary evil at times.  It can be a slight of hand.  You are listening to the complex terms while your wallet is carefully lifted from you.
  • The Yes Man – the idea that your attorney is going to be like those criminal defense attorneys on Law and Order and cover for you, back you up, and help you get away with acting awful. You don’t pay an attorney to be your Yes Man, you pay them to advocate for you, and that sometimes means telling you what you may not like. Often times, I’ve noticed I tend to have the most conflict with my own clients when trying to provide insight they don’t want to hear. Clients looking for a Yes Man can, at times, be our own worst enemies.  Just remember, the Yes Man attorney is not fighting for his kid.  She's fighting for yours.

So, fan service can be both good and bad. You want an attorney to have knowledge and confidence, that’s a given, but those television stereotypes you want to see aren’t necessarily realistic and may distract judges from your story and the truth. So don’t get so wrapped up in fan service that you lose sight of the narrative and your goal.

Megan McClinton

Categories: Family Law

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