Tonight’s post on practicing family law and a whole lot more was written by our Savannah family law attorney, Professor David Purvis.
In keeping with last week’s blog theme, I wanted to discuss the other end of the spectrum. Instead of not doing any family law, how about those attorneys who do every conceivable practice area, including family law.
I had a client come to me earlier in the year whose divorce was finalized at the end of the previous year. There were a myriad of issues that failed to get addressed in the divorce. First and foremost, there were children born to the marriage who were not accounted for in the divorce! But beyond that, the divorce should have never taken place in Georgia. Georgia had no jurisdiction to decide the issues of the divorce. The client said that she raised this concern with her attorney, but her attorney did not object in his pleadings. The client also said she told her attorney prior to the entry of the divorce decree that she was pregnant, but attorney never mentioned it to the court.
Having never heard of this attorney (that’s usually telling because the family law bar is quite small), I “googled” him. According to his web site, family law matters account for 2 of the 23 practice areas he handles as a solo practitioner. He claims his expertise ranges from personal injury to court martials to real estate closings to corporate litigation to local government to employment law. If you can name it, he claims he can help you.
The old saying is “jack of all trades, master of none.” This clearly was the case with this attorney. I have no doubt he has handled divorce cases before. He’s probably gotten a few clients through a divorce unscathed. But in this particular case, he made some serious errors that resulted in some real hardships on his former client. Malpractice? I am not here to speculate. But I can’t help but think that by spreading his attention across 23 different practice areas, this attorney is doing his clients and himself a disservice in more than just this one particular case.
Certainly there is still a need for the general practioner – the attorney that handles a few different practice areas. Heck, I was one myself once and enjoyed it. But at some point, there has to be a cap, a limit within general reasonableness on how many practice areas one can manage. Because after awhile, at least a few of those practice areas effect real people going through real problems, problems you aren’t going to be able to handle.
Maybe you don’t have to be called to the practice of family law to be good at it. I only know that at The Manely Firm, all of our attorneys feel called to do this work. But, for crying out loud, even if you aren’t called to it, families still matter. Attorneys ought to darn well practice enough family law to give the families a fighting chance.
Take it seriously or stay out!