In initial interviews with potential clients, I am often asked whether I represent more husbands or wives. The answer is that I don’t keep count because it is not important to me. It is my sense that it is about equal. However, I do think it is important that I, and most all of my colleagues in family law practice, represent both husbands and wives in approximately equal proportions. Whenever you practice this profession with a particular ideological bent, whether it be towards wives or husbands and their particular concerns based on their status as husbands or wives, you begin to lose perspective and start to see people and situations as categories rather than the unique people with unique situations that are in front of you as an attorney. Furthermore, as the roles of spouses are so much less structured than they were when I started practicing more than three decades ago, looking at clients as either husbands or wives per se simply ignores the reality of life these days.
Lawyers who practice in most other litigation areas tend to represent either one side or the other. For instance, all criminal lawyers are either prosecutors or defense counsel. There is no in between. In tort litigation, for the most part, most firms or lawyers are either plaintiffs’ lawyers who work for contingent fees or defense counsel who are paid by insurance companies. This leads to a certain viewpoint and outlook on people by the lawyers who practice in these areas – and, I think, inevitably, a certain loss of perspective on the complexity of people in general.
This is not true however of family law specialists. Because we represent all “sides,” by our training and experience, we tend to have a more nuanced understanding of people, which, I hope, gives us a greater insight into people and how to act in their best interests to help get what they truly want and need in a new situation which is unknown and frightening to them. This is a long way of saying, that as a client, you should want an attorney for your family law matter who is not ideologically a husband’s lawyer or a wife’s lawyer, but someone who has had wide experience representing all sorts of people in such matters, and who can use that experience to best advise clients about what may be best for them and to be able to implement a plan to efficiently get them what is best in their situation.