You came to the consultation. We talked. We discussed the basics of your case. I explained how I work and told you my retainer fee. At some point you paid the retainer and we signed a retainer agreement. I am your attorney for the case.
We explored possible means to accomplish your goals. I explained the law to you. I gave you my opinion as to the best way to proceed. You decided to think about it, and left my office. But then you decided to get the opinions of your friend whose been through the “same thing”, your mother, another friend who works in an attorney’s office, and so on. Based on their input, you called me. You said THEY were sure you are entitled to more than I had informed you of, that the law was clearly in your favor, and that no judge would ever find in favor of your spouse. In fact, we need to go straight to a hearing because there is no need to settle because a judge will just think you are weak.
Virtually no attorney will resent a prospective client seeking the opinion of other attorneys prior to engaging an attorney on a matter. The issue I raise here is of clients engaging an attorney to represent him in a case, then seeking “second” opinions from non-attorneys. Non-attorneys are not authorized in South Carolina, by statutory law, to give legal advice. In addition, once an attorney has been engaged on a case, many of the issues are of a sensitive and even confidential nature. Clients should be aware that even the most well-meaning friend or family member may accidentally reveal confidential information or case strategy to the opposing party.
You have fallen victim to what is variously termed the “Greek Chorus”, “Cheerleader Squad”, or “Friends & Family Network.” They are there not only to support you in your hour of need, but to make dang-sure you get everything that’s coming to you! And they will help you fight tooth-and-toenail until you do. Even when you think about giving in, their job is to stir the pot until you boil over again. Because they aren’t gratified until that low-life spouse of yours in in his or her proper, low, and degraded place.
But let me ask you this? Do any of these friends and family look in the mirror in the morning with you? Do they raise your children, and do they have to explain to them why you and your soon-to-be ex are unhappy? Will they be the ones paying the mediator, the GAL, and the lawyers? Will they be the ones going into the courtroom to testify to the court about why there has been no settlement after repeated attempts? Do your friends and family know when settlement attempts are required, which counties are mandatory mediation jurisdictions, and which forms must be filed in all cases as of 2013? Are they experienced at developing parenting plans? Do they know the different standards for sole, joint and shared custody? Do they understand the various grounds for divorce, and what evidence will be required? Do they know when you need a competent witness to testify at a hearing (for that matter, do they know what makes a witness “competent”)?
We lawyers will explain the law and how it applies in YOUR unique case. We any possible options and explain the ramifications of your decisions on your case, your finances and your lifestyle, to the best of our ability. We try to prepare you for any changes that might effect your future, especially in child visitation and child support cases. We know the answers to all the basic questions, and we have additional questions as well as answer .
So, if your BFF, your auntie, your step-mom and her friend that works in a doctor’s office who got divorced last year can all give you good advice, why hire me? Hire me because you want a professional yet caring attorney who will zealously defend your case and keep you informed regarding the law and its application to the facts of your case. That is why hiring an attorney is better than listening to your BFF and the “Greek Chorus.” And its why your attorney’s fees are money well spent.