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Yesterday, I was a Rhode Island lawyer whose book was judged by the cover and a prospective Divorce Client took the loss!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

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Yesterday I had an appointment scheduled with a man who had already rescheduled his appointment once.  Just before his appointment for his divorce advice session I saw him pull into the driveway. 


The prospective client hesitated in his car in the parking area.  He had been advised in the confirmation email that he would be coming to a residential area and that my office is located in the lower level of the split level house to save my client's money by eliminating expenses and lowering my fees and making a more comfortable, homelike environment so people could feel comfortable with their divorce lawyer.

The propective client looked around from the driveway at the raised ranch that houses my law practice.  Then he drove away.  No call that he wanted to cancel his appointment.  No courtesy call to let know he wanted to reschedule.  No call to explain why he chose to cancel.

For sixteen (16) years, I have dedicated my every effort to try to help the people of this state in our Rhode Island Family Courts, including mothers, fathers, children and even the court itself.

So yesterday, this prospective client judged a book by it's cover.  He looked at the house and he didn't see a fancy law office on the outside.  He didn't see a big sign with impressive lettering.  He didn't see a BMW or a Jaguar in the driveway.  So without seeing everything he expected to see in a traditional law firm he drove away without so much as a courtesy call to me as the lawyer inside.  So I continued on with my work day.

Yet it was this prospective client's loss that he doesn't realize.  What he didn't see was the lawyer in a business suit suit prepared to meet him inside behind an antique oak desk.  What he didn't see was 16 years of experience waiting to inform him of his legal rights and answer his questions.

What the man didn't realize is that lawyers with a fancy law office must charge you more to pay for that law office.  What the man didn't realize is that a fancy sign really means nothing. It simply costs more and tries to make you look more impressive.  What he didn't realize was that a lawyer's BMW or Jaguar doesn't go into court for you.  When all is said and done what is crucial is that you remember that the value you get is in the lawyer you hire.  Your lawyer goes to court for you.  Your lawyer argues your case.  Your lawyer makes the difference.  When you are impressed by desks, offices, secretaries, support staff, huge copiers, paralegals, etc... and you believe that gets you a better law firm, you're fooling yourself.  When all is said and done it is your lawyer that makes the difference.

So the man yesterday drove away to his loss.  What if he learned that he was getting a $250 per hour lawyer for $150 per hour.  How would he feel after the fact realizing he could have obtained a lawyer with the same experience as the fancy looking law firm for $100 per hour LESS. 

Focus is crucial when selecting a lawyer and appearances can be deceiving.  It you have all the money in the world, then by all mean just pick the most expensive lawyer you can and hope you get a good one.  If not, remember... don't judge a book by it's cover... you could be making a tremendously impractical mistake.


Dedicated Rhode Island Divorce Attorneys don't practice in 5 areas of law!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

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This article is more of a short opinion of mine than it is fact.  You can feel free to agree with me or disagree with me and I certainly will respect your opinion.  

From the very beginning of my practice attorneys have told me that I wouldn't be able to survive as a lawyer if I didn't practice in more than one area of law.  Quite a few attorneys told me that I needed to pick at least three (3) areas of law with more of a recommendation of five (5) areas.  It was explained me as diversification like one would do with a financial portfolio.

In short, I disagreed.  The more areas you practice in, the more law you have to keep up with, the more rules of court you have to keep up with, the more care you have to take in order to prevent yourself from a malpractice claim.

Attorneys tried to convince me that it wasn't that hard and you just keep up with the issues that relate to your cases as they arise.  I didn't agree.

In the end it came down to one thing.  I believed that by choosing more than one area of law I was trying to be a "jack of all trades and a master of none."  My opponents by comparison felt that it was enough to keep up with parts of the law that affected the specific cases that came to us and that was enough.  In the end the attorney who practiced in more areas of law was more diversified and would be able to get more clients and consequently make more money.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that dedicated and caring divorce attorneys would choose to practice in family law and perhaps one other area of law if they truly expected to keep up with the law and serve their client's properly.

Do I make the money these other lawyers make?  No, probably not.  In fact, it comes with its sacrifices including the income but they are worth it and necessary to practice in a way that I believe I should be practicing in both for myself and my clients.

When you interview your family law attorney, find out how diverse he or she is.  It will be worth it to know how many areas he or she practices in.  The more areas... the more clients the attorney is likely to have and the thinner the attorney is spread.

The call is yours and this is purely my unique view and opinion.  I share it because many people don't think of it this way.  The few numbers of practice areas, the more likely it is that the attorney's competency in the area(s) practiced in greater.  I practice divorce and specific areas of family law. It's not just part of what I do.... it's ALL I DO!  

I'm here for those who need a caring and affordable divorce and family law attorney.  Hidden away in a small office and rural area of Coventry, Rhode Island... I am the unsuspecting attorney most people are looking for.  My best to all who go before the Rhode Island Family Court.  I understand.... I've walked in your shoes!

Rhode Island Divorce - A Pre-Paid Legal Insurance Plan Might Help in your Divorce!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. The Rhode Island Divorce Coach

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It's amazing that most Americans haven't heard of preventive legal plans. I'm not sure if other attorneys are keeping them a secret because they think they might lose business or what the story might be.   Yet I know that for legal situations they are the best savings and protection that people can get for their dollar.

According to the National Resource Center for Consumers of Legal Services and American Hospital Association, you are three times more likely to become involved in a legal situation than you are to be hospitalized.  In 1997, 33 million hospitalizations were reported in the United States compared to over 100 MILLION lawsuits were filed that year.  It's Incredible!; You are 3 times more likely to end up in court than you are to end up in the hospital.

Really the best way to understand a preventative legal membership plan is that it does for attorney and legal bills what an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) does for doctor and hospital bills.  Consider these real figures.  The national average is that attorneys want an up front $1,500 retainer and $194 per hour.  Who can afford that?  Who should have to?  Being upfront, I couldn't even afford myself and I'm in this business.

If you had a legal problem today, what would you do?

Could you afford a a qualified attorney?

Here's an example.  I know this real doctor.   We'll call him Dr. Alfred. Dr. Alfred worked hard all his life and he was good at saving money and never had to use a lawyer except for real estate purchases.   By age 69 Dr. Alfred had amassed about $1,750,000 in assets for his retirement.  Along came his son-in-law with this great business idea.   He trusted his son-in-law who presented him with a document to sign so they could be business partners. Dr. Alfred was excited and signed the paper.   Three years later Dr. Alfred and lost all his real estate, $1,500,000 in his cash reserves that his son-in-law had drained from his bank accounts and had spent $100,000 in legal fees to fight a lawsuit brought by his son-in-law to discredit and bankrupt Dr. Alfred.

If Dr. Alfred had owned a Pre-Paid Legal Insurance Plan that offered a legal discount he could have used his Pre-Paid Legal plan attorney in his state, discovered that the paper he gave his son-in-law afforded the son-in-law unlimited power over his assets and the attorney could have prevented Dr. Alfred from being reduced to $50,000 in assets for his whole life's efforts.

Think about it.  A single document destroyed Dr. Alfred's life savings and retirement.   Don't think it could happen to you?  Think again.

Should you consider getting a preventative legal plan?   Consider this.

You have health insurance but you don't PLAN on getting sick today, right?

You have automobile insurance but you don't PLAN on going out and having an accident today, right?

You have homeowners insurance but you don't plan to burn your house down today, right?

You have life insurance but you don't PLAN on going out and dying today, correct?

No doubt you got these insurances to protect your loved ones and your assets in case disaster strikes.

And disaster strikes without warning to thousands of people every single minute of every single day without warning. The time to prepare is not AFTER they have happened!   That is too late.  The time to protect yourself is NOW and that is why there is such a great need for these types of plans.

So in a country where you are 3 times more likely to be in court than you are to be hospitalized, doesn't it make sense to have a preventive legal plan?

The great thing about a preventive legal plan is that it covers ALL FOUR of your other protections!

Now, not all plans cover divorces or family court matters but many of them do, even if they give you a 25% discount on an attorney's services for the nominal monthly fee that is charged, isn't it worth it?   Imagine saving $50 PER HOUR on a $200 PER HOUR attorney.  Just 20 hours saves you $1,000 right there.

Legal plans aren't perfect.   They have their drawbacks as well as their benefits but that's a blog article for another day.   For many people, legal plans are just what the doctor ordered be it for divorce, family law and other types of cases.

The Problem Some RI Divorce Attorneys Cause in Uncontested Divorce Cases!

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Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall
a.k.a.  The Rhode Island Divorce Coach℠

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I can't do anything but put it bluntly.  The problem some lawyers cause when a client has an uncontested divorce case is that the attorney is greedy.  I hate actually hate to say that.  Why?  Because I'm in this profession and many people think all attorneys are the same. 

Let me tell you, we're not.  So what happens when an attorney is greedy and takes in an uncontested divorce case?  Usually the attorney hasn't billed enough for the case, or at least not as much as the attorney wants to make so the next best thing is this "cause controversy and make it a contested case." 

Wouldn't a client see that though?  Unfortunately, they don't see how skillful these unscrupulous lawyers are.  Some lawyers can turn an easy uncontested case into a contested case and make it look like it's the judge's fault or the other attorney's fault or even the other party's fault.  Anyone's fault but the attorneys.

This type of action by lawyers disgusts me.  It plays on the emotions of the parties, spends their monies needlessly, sometimes destroys family relationships, and takes away time from people's lives that they otherwise could have spent happily. 

There are things you want to look for when researching, meeting with, and hiring a lawyer.  They may seem lofty or great in a speech but they still exist and as long as we continue to promote them in life.  I live my life by them and I run my practice by them.  What are they?  They are embodied in words such as Honor . . . Decency . . . Caring . . . Respect . . . Manners . . . Integrity . . . Fortitude . . . Perseverance . . . Honesty . . .  and the list goes on.

I've wanted to give up so many times in the practice of family law because I run into some bad lawyers and sometimes they win because it's hard to beat a lawyer who doesn't play by the rules and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the money they want to make.

Yet I don't quit.  I persevere for those good people that I can help.  I keep going so that when people need a lawyer who will tell a person his or her rights and yet not cause trouble when they want to settle a case that may give away 95% of what the law says they should get.  We as lawyers are advisors and guides.  We are not here to make the decision for the client or to create situations that end up having clients make decisions that are based upon incorrect information because the attorney has caused controversy between the parties.

We're here to help people.  We're here to help them get through to a better and hopefully brighter tomorrow without being one of the factors that makes their lives worse.  That's my philosophy and no amount of money will change it.  Years ago I realized I could make hundreds of thousands of dollars if I just agreed to put my principles to one side and create controversy in every divorce I was involved in rather than helping the parties come reach an amicable resolution quickly.  Not once have I done it, nor will I ever do so.

Clients, you are the best one to look out for your own interests.  Remember, sometimes that may include as it relates to policing your own attorney too. 

Request for Relief Issues in a RI Divorce Complaint Matter!

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Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. The Rhode Island Divorce Coach℠

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In a Rhode Island divorce proceeding the filing spouse is often concerned about the relief that is requested in the divorce complaint itself. 

This is particularly true if the spouse filing for divorce in Rhode Island wants to keep things amicable and is concerned about their husband or wife becoming upset or even fanatical when they receive a divorce complaint that requests something that the other spouse believes is outrageous or unreasonable under the circumstances.

In a divorce complaint many attorneys will prepare a complaint for divorce that requests virtually every form of relief that the filing party might want from the court.  Thus, an attorney may prepare a divorce complaint for filing in the Providence County Family Court that asks for alimony, placement of the minor children, child support and resumption of maiden name.  This may be true even if the attorney has been told by the client that he or she does not want alimony or to resume her maiden name.  

These provisions are often included by the attorney as a precautionary measure to ensure that the client does not waive that relief if something changes and he or she changes their mind after the complaint for divorce is filed.  In truth, it is a good practice when dealing with a client who is undecided or who seems to hesitate about any particular form of relief.

I personally don't disagree with the idea of including every possible form of relief in the request for relief regarding a client so as to make certain that the client has not waived any relief he or she may want after the complaint has been filed.  However, it's best to strike a balance here and discuss the matter with the client.  If the client expressed identifiable uncertainty to the attorney about the specific type of relief requested, it is better as a practitioner to request it in the complaint and ask the client for permission to include the provisions he or she expressly stated were not desired.  If the client is opposed to requesting, for example  "alimony" in their divorce complaint because he or she is afraid that the other spouse will take action to retaliate, then it is a better practice to listen to the client and exclude that provision it the divorce lawyer determines that it would be a marginal alimony case and simply make sure that you include for the client a sentence in the relief requested area of the divorce complaint that you also request "and any and all relief that this court deems fair and just."

You as the client should be aware that in practice things may be a bit different than a strict application of the law.  When the little clause just mentioned above is included in the complaint, then Rhode Island family court judges will generally allow an amendment of the complaint to include the requested relief later in the proceeding if there is a justifiable basis for doing so.

Ultimately, you are the client and you are in charge. If you don't want particular language in your Rhode Island divorce complaint then it is up to you to tell your Rhode Island divorce attorney that you want the language removed.  You may do this even if your attorney advises you that the language should remain for your protection.  This does not mean that your attorney must agree with you, nor does it mean that your attorney must continue to represent you if he or she thinks you are making a grave mistake. 

On the rare occasion an attorney may even refuse to proceed as your counsel if you want to exclude certain language that your divorce lawyer finds is crucial to your case.  Though this may be merely a precaution against any potential malpractice claim against the attorney later, it should be taken as a strong indication that if your attorney is willing to go this far to ensure that the language is included, that you, as the client, should probably defer to your attorney's advice.

In the end, a good attorney will advise you of the various considerations involved but ultimately defer to your wishes on the vast majority of issues even if he or she finds them to be contrary to your best interests.

It is good for the lawyer and client to reach an understanding on all family law issues in order to strike a balance between your personal and non-legal concerns as the client and the advice of an experienced and licensed legal practitioner. 

When in doubt, it is always best for you as the client to make the extra effort necessary to retain a lawyer with a dedicated family law practice who practices regularly (weekly if possible) before the Rhode Island Family Courts.

You are the client.  It's your life.  A good divorce lawyer who cares about your case will discuss all related matters with you and work with you on them to do what is best for you regarding your legal and non-legal concerns.  Once again, it is your life.  Don't settle for anything less than what you want and what you determine is in your best interests.