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La Ti Da

The aggressive lawyer is integral to the composition of our modern adversary system. The idea is, each side has an aggressive lawyer that makes the other side look as sleazy as possible and the judge tries to figure out who disgusts him the least?

As regular readers know, our firm fights against the aggressive lawyer mentality every day. There are much better ways of practicing family law than winner take all, loser gets the guillotine. But relatively speaking, I’ll take an aggressive lawyer any day over the lawyer who handles their case as though nothing is important whatsoever. This lawyer looks at their client’s circumstance and says, “La ti da.” They are charged with advocating for the best interests of the parties’ child and they say, “La ti da.” They have the opportunity to keep the client well away from the guillotine but instead say “La ti da.”

Aggressive attorneys are definitely on the rise again after the recession, but I’m also observing some attorneys who are the anti-managers of their cases. They do nothing; they raise no issue; they assert no defense; they champion no position. Whatever happens, happens and these attorneys are loathe to do anything about it.

So your divorce has been idling for months? Too bad, la ti da.

So you haven’t seen your child in months? Too bad, la ti da.

So I could easily predict a problem with your case and re-orient it away from that problem. Too much trouble, la ti da.

This is maddening. Attorneys are supposed to be problem solvers. Whether they solve that problem with a scalpel or a nuclear device, they are supposed to get something done. It is an insult to the industry and a huge disservice to the client to do nothing, la ti da. Give me motion over stagnation any day. Give me a deadline over an endless sea of nothing. Give me judgment day (trial) over inertness. Clients rarely fare well with nothing happening. That’s when something bad happens. And if opposing counsel is one of the aggressive kind, you can bet that something really bad will happen. They will make sure of it.

So, proactive is much better than prone. Progress is much better than calcification. Resolution is better than reticence.

To the la ti da attorney: Move! Do something. Don’t just sit there. Don’t la ti da your client into oblivion, content to collect your fee, come what may. You haven’t the stomach to fight? Okay, at least protect your client. Don’t sit idly by while your opposition slices and dices your client because they prepared and you preferred to sit with your feet up watching some old, sad movie. Protect your client; pursue his position; prevail in his cause!

You’ve often heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” Let that be your barometer. Does the attorney talk a good game but then nothing happens? Are they all sympathetic to your ear but like a sloth to your cause? Has a month or even months gone by and you’ve seen no measurable progress on your case. If so, you might have hired the la ti da attorney.

If so, get ready. You are eventually headed to that guillotine. God help you.

La ti da.

Michael Manely