Authored By: Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "
So many lawyers are advertising that they are "aggressive." But do you know what an "aggressive lawyer" is and whether that's the kind of lawyer you are looking for.
A good place to start is the definition of "aggressive." Generally it means "ready or likely to attack or confront." Is that what you want though? The fact is that the word aggressive can mean any number of things. Let me give you a few examples.
I had one case against one attorney early on in my practice who not only advertised as being aggressive but also was known to be aggressive. As we came up to the eve of trial the attorney tried to force a settlement. In full view and easily within earshot not only of his client but of lots of people in the courthouse corridor he intentionally instigated a loud argument with me although he was the only one being loud and there was no disagreement. He made it a point to yell at me and call me unprofessional and that he was going to teach me a thing or two in the trial. His client smiled as though he had got his money's worth as I tried to piece together what I was missing since this was clearly a one-sided attack on me in a public display that made no sense.
I figured it out later. It was all an act to "look aggressive" so his client would believe he was getting his monies' worth. In truth it was an act and nothing more. When all was said and done input from the judge put the matter to bed rather quickly in favor of my client. What did aggressive get the other lawyer's client . . . nothing! It was merely an illusion.
In another case I was up against an aggressive lawyer who was calm but used tactics were less than honorable. The lawyer made filings without giving me notice as required by the Rhode Island Family Court Rules to try to prevent me from protecting my client's interests. The attorney would also create reasons why he or his client could not be in court without giving me notice as the opposing counsel so I could minimize attorney's fees for my client or lost wages as my client took a day out of work. The lawyer misrepresented matters before the judge to mislead the court in favor of the lawyer's client. To say the least the lawyers tactics and "aggressive stature" were less than professional or ethical. In short, they were underhanded and the types of things that lead to lawyers receiving a bad reputation.
What many clients don't realize is that aggressive need not be offensive, loud and boisterous, insulting, unprofessional, unethical, nor in violation of the Rules of the Family Court which incidentally may be grounds for appeal. A good aggressive lawyer knows how to strategically use aggressive strategies without making it an "acting show" and without "risking your case by violating the rights of others and causing appealable issues."
Perhaps one of the most significant things prospective clients need to consider is the fact that your lawyer is a reflection of you. If your lawyer ticks off, offends or causes a judge in the case to be incensed by the lawyer's behavior, it reflects badly on you as the client.
Why? Because the lawyer is there only to represent your interests. The lawyer will be there on many other cases during his or her career but during the time he or she is there for your case it's as if the lawyer is standing in for you. If the lawyer represents something, it's as if you said it. So the lawyer is an extension of you. If the lawyer does or says something that can damage how you appear or your case before the court then YOU are the one who pays the price, not the lawyer. It's your life! No matter how much you are paying your lawyer, your selection of lawyer is critical.
Watch out for aggressive lawyers! In my personal opinion your lawyer can be aggressive without doing what either of the two lawyers in this article did. Remember, if the lawyer damages his or her credibility before the court, he or she could very well have damaged your case.
Don't be victimized simply because you selected the wrong lawyer because the advertising sounds good. Be Smart! Be informed!