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Knowing My Limitations in Family Law

"A man has got to know his limitations."  I've grown up knowing this to be true and knowing my limitations in my family law practice is one of the most important things I could know.

My limitations: 

I'm not good at fighting for the sake of fighting. Sometimes clients want to war with their soon-to-be exes for transgressions in the marriage.  Those emotions are real.  Those emotions are valid.  But Court is the least likely place to get any satisfaction from fighting for the sake of fighting. A boxing ring would bring more pleasure and produce better results.

Some attorneys are quite willing to take up their client's emotional mantle and join the fray.  It makes for a healthy payday for the attorney, whether or not the client gets any good out of it.  I'm just not good at that.

I'm not good at fighting just to gain an advantage.  Family law is certainly like a chess game with very elaborate and complicated strategies in play.  Usually, if you aren't thinking multiple moves ahead, you aren't doing very well.  But that is not to say that all the elaborate and complicated strategy is fighting to gain advantage.  Pick your battles to win your war.  Don't battle to battle better. That's like Gandhi's phrase, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." At the end of the day, you would prefer not to be blind.

Finally, I'm not good at fighting for the fun of it. To me, there is no fun in fighting. I don't battle for sport. I am a reluctant warrior this way. Some attorneys love to fight.  Personally, I think they need time on an analyst's couch. Of course, the attorney's pleasure is at their client's expense both economically and emotionally.  I'm just not good at that.

What I mean by "not good at that," is that my heart isn't in it.  I don't rise to the occasion. After 25 plus years of litigating family law cases, I've learned to pass on these circumstances.  I've learned my limitations.

Fortunately, there are some things I am good at, some actions which draw my heart in, some occassions to which I rise.

I am very good at fighting against aggressors.

My heart is into fighting against injustice.

I rise to the occasion of fighting to achieve the right result.

These are necessary fights. These aren't fights for fun; these aren't fights for fighting sake nor fights just to gain advantage.  These are battles that must be waged and wars that must be won lest wrong results occur.

And I seem to have boundless energy and relatively little limitation for that.

Michael Manely

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