I'm a lawyer and I exclusively practice Rhode Island Divorce. Frankly, I've been disappointed since my first day of practice in this field.
No, let me be more honest than that. I have been disgusted. What I see Rhode Island Divorce lawyers do in what was once and honorable and noble profession turns my stomach.
I will not go into detail but I can tell you that our Professional Code of Conduct is about as far from what one might consider morally ethical as having a donut at Dunkin Donuts is from having filet mignon at the Capitol Grill in Providence, RI.
I still believe lawyers to be an honorable profession but I believe that many of us have a long way to go before we reach an acceptable level of conduct.
So how do we get back lawyering back to noble? Well, I will speak here only as it relates to family law attorneys.
Three (3) Problems Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers Can Conquer
1) Problem: I understand that each of us needs to survive. We have student loans, law practice overhead, malpractice insurance, accounting, payroll services, billing services, computer equipment, office rent, utilities and many other expenses to cover.
Solution: Address these things and budget them. Be practical and shop around. Get the best price you can and stick to the fundamentals. Tons of bells and whistles may make you feel great but it doesn't do anything for your bottom line except bring your income down and your fees and expenses up. Work your practice within your means.
2) Problem: Rhode Island family law lawyers often don't control their debt and expenses so their practice rules their lives. Many Rhode Island lawyers want to make money faster and remove the financial stress from their personal lives.
Solution: Budget your life as you would your law practice. LIve within your means. Don't overextend yourself on credit and get into loans and payment structures that you don't have the income to cover right from the moment you enter into them. If you live in a more streamlined and meager fashion and bargain shop in your home life and in your law practice then your practice is more likely to reach fruition faster than if you spread yourself too thin.
3) Problem: Don't think of clients as paychecks.
Solution: As a Rhode Island lawyer when you practice family law you need to have a mindset shift. You have a person who is coming to you not with a collection matter but with a matter involving their personal life and something that impacts him or her as a family member. The client is entrusting you with a part of his or her life. The person is not a paycheck.
Do you need to be paid? Absolutely, but keep in mind the economic times we are in. You are not the only lawyer in town and another attorney down the road may be willing to care about their case, respond to them promptly and get the same result or perhaps a better result for 1/2 the price.
We are in a client-centric economy! If you treat clients as paychecks, they are going to know it and not only are you not going to not get any referrals from that client but you could easily damage your practice by abusing your relationship with a client who has some influence in the community you work in.
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In short, we need to raise the bar for our own conduct. Our Professional Code of Conduct is the strict guide we are bound by, but when the almighty dollar controls our acceptance of clients and how we proceed for them as opposed to a reasonable standard of morality, then we cheapen our profession.
Streamline your practice and live within your own personal needs and you will accelerate the growth of your practice and gain respect with prospective clients
Don't be afraid to tell your clients the benefits they get as a result of your sacrifices and that you make the sacrifice so they can have that benefit.
Let's get back to Serving the People in an honorable manner with a level of morality befitting our position as lawyers serving our clients. Though there may be differences in arguments as to morality, those differences will be understandable to honorable practitioners.
However, those Rhode Island lawyers who accept divorces and other family law cases knowing that the intentions of their client is the malicious destruction of another person or may result in emotional damage to one or more children in a family unit should take the time to re-evaluate priorities.
Why are you taking the case? Is the money factor your motivator? Is your compensation more important to you than the possible results of your client's proposed actions and the damage you may cause? If so, you may wish to consider whether you are doing our profession a disservice? Are you doing something to contribute to the nobility of our legal profession and that of your family law colleagues? Or are you just a lawyer for hire to do what it takes to make money? If you find that it is the latter, and you don't care . . . .well, congratulations for pulling another nail in the coffin of our once noble profession.
Let's work together to bring back the nobility of family law lawyering in Rhode Island. Equitable and amicable resolutions are not difficult between reasonable lawyers who are realistic with their clients. We can help families and preserve many family units as we restore the nobility of our profession or those who choose to can destroy the remainder of our noble profession one dollar at a time.
Each of us has a choice! Choose wisely... your practice and your reputation may depend upon it!
Success is not all about money you know!
My Best to all Who Go Before the Rhode Island Family Court System,
I am Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall and
I am "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."