Your Divorce Lawyer: Who's In Control -- You or Them?

Figure out which divorce lawyer best suits you from the advice of Stacy D. Phillips, author and certified family law specialist.

By Stacy D. Phillips, certified family law specialist
Updated: September 04, 2014
Family Lawyers

Your Lawyer

The following is an excerpt from the book, Divorce: It's All About Control — How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars, by renowned family law attorney Stacy D. Phillips. In Chapter Four, Phillips helps the reader understand how those around him/her may be controlling their divorce, and offers advice. This excerpt is one in a series of six from the “Who's In Control — You or Them? See if you can pinpoint what type of divorce lawyer is handling your divorce case

Since everyone is different, I want you to ultimately decide what type of family attorney is best for you and how much control you want or need, to be comfortable in your dealings. Also, if you already have a divorce attorney in place, this is the perfect time to ask that very important question with regard to that family-law attorney relationship: Who is in control?

The "Warrior"

These divorce lawyers plow full speed ahead, usually winding up in a courtroom on a regular and repeated basis in each case. The Warrior likes competition and he likes to win. A Warrior is terrific when your last resort is a bonafide Legal War, but often times this species can create more havoc and chaos than good. I believe every good divorce attorney should have a Warrior "within" (I certainly do); but to behave bellicose 24/7 is not necessarily the answer.

The "Parent"

This type is the "father/mother figure." They are known to "caretake" throughout the divorce-law process; but just like Mom and Dad, they may have a tendency to tell you what is best for you and insist on your following their lead.

The "Wimp"

This type of family lawyer backs off from any confrontation, whether it is coming from you, opposing counsel, or the judge. He or she would rather just settle the case and collect fees. Beware of the Wimp, for he or she is not likely to take a stand when taking one is necessary. The Wimp is the type of divorce lawyer that wants no control. The Wimp would just as soon you keep control, preferring the path of least resistance

The "Lazybone"

The way in which this family lawyer type differs from the Wimp is that the Lazybone just cannot seem to get the job done. He or she is notoriously late in returning telephone calls, tardy in filing the proper paperwork, forever losing important documents, cannot seem to remember details, and, to the extreme, can also be known to nod off in a deposition or lengthy court proceeding. There is really no control problem with the Lazybone — he or she is often more than happy for you to take charge.

The "Egomaniac"

With this type, if he/she cannot run the show, they would rather have no show at all! They, like the Warrior, need to prevail. These types of divorce attorneys are incredibly conscious of what others think, and therefore may do an excellent job on a client's behalf, just to make one more overwhelming impression. The Egomaniac, however, is not apt to give away much control, preferring to use it as a means of saying, "See how perfectly my strategy worked out!"

The "Bait and Switch"

This type of divorce lawyer often rides on his or her laurels — a fine reputation or that of a celebrated one—but shuffles you over to a firm associate or partner. The Bait and Switch usually charges big bucks and may even try to warrant those hefty fees, though you come to find out that one of his/her divorce attorneys is actually working your case.

The "Partner"

This type of divorce attorney encourages the client to participate in his or her divorce process on all fronts. Teamwork is the bylaw of this attorney's approach, making sure the client plays an integral part in the making of all decisions. A strong partnership between client and attorney is established from the get-go. The Partner does the Control Dance well because he or she knows when to lead and when to follow. The Partner is always goal-oriented and results-driven.

Now that you have had a glimpse of the divorce-attorney categories in a broad sense (and sometimes they overlap), see if you can identify into which category (or categories) your family attorney falls. Know there is no right or wrong type in general, only a right or wrong type for you.


Read the other articles in this series:


Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is co-chair of the Women's Political Committee and a member of Divorce Magazine's North American Advisory Board. She can be reached at (310) 277-7117. View her firm's Divorce Magazine profile here.

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April 09, 2007
Categories:  Family Lawyers

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