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Finding The Right Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer for You!

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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In your Rhode Island divorce proceeding I am absolutely . . . positively certain that the most crucial decision you will make throughout the entire divorce process is the selection of the person to represent your interests.

As a husband, father, layman and now an attorney for men and women I make this statement from almost every perspective you can imagine.  Your decision on whether you present yourself or which attorney you retain to represent you in your divorce will make a monumental difference.

Selecting the right Rhode Island lawyer to represent you in your Rhode Island divorce matter is not the easiest thing to do so here are just a few things you want to consider.

1.  How many divorce cases does the attorney handle in a year?

2.  What is the focus of the attorney's practice?  For example, is it divorce and family law or does the attorney handle a good volume of personal injury cases?

3.  How much does the attorney charge per hour and what expenses does that include? 

4.  Does the attorney have available references to divorce and/or family law clients who would be willing to speak with you about his or her services and what is the relationship of those clients to the attorney (i.e. brother-in-law, friend, etc... or a referred client).

5.  Does the attorney address fees and costs first before even discussing your issues with you?  (i.e. does he or she seem more interested in money issues than in working with you regarding your case...)

Choosing the right attorney for your divorce matter is CRUCIAL!  It is the single most important thing you will do in your divorce proceeding.  By the end of the interview / consultation you should assess whether or not you feel like you got a good sense of the attorney and that he or she is a genuine yet knowledgeable practitioner that you could see representing you.

Generally speaking I call this the "KLT" Test.  At the end of the interview do you feel that based upon the length of the meeting that you "Know" . . . . "Like" . . . . and "Trust" the divorce attorney such that you can see him or her representing your interests in a knowledgeable and positive manner before the Rhode Island family court.

If your answer to the KLT Test is yes . . .yes . . .and yes . . . and if the retainer and fee arrangement to retain the attorney are comparable to other attorneys you have interviewed . . . the attorney regularly practices before the Rhode Island family courts then it's very likely that you have a good attorney to represent your interests.

Having the Right Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer on your side makes ALL the difference!


Rhode Island Lawyers . Divorce or otherwise . . do they deserve the black eye? Part II

ARTICLE PART II

Do lawyers deserve the proverbial "black eye" that we seem to have in the public eye?

I took an extra day to ponder the question because there is a bit more to it than simply accepting a perception that has carried on for as long as I can remember.

Persons reading this blog should keep in mind that I respect all opinions and while I may express my opinion in this particular blog article, we are as people ever changing and developing by our daily experiences and as a result our opinions and the underlying thoughts that form my beliefs today as a Rhode Island Lawyer may not be true at this time next year or even next month.  That is, after all, one of the fascinating things about those who continue to grow and change.  In each and every moment we are always evolving and never truly the same exact person from moment to moment.  A bit deep I know, but interesting nonetheless.

So, what then is my thought process here as both an individual and a Rhode Island attorney?

As an individual I had the opportunity to be a layperson and try to represent myself in family court matters without any knowledge in family law.  As an individual this also gave me the opportunity to watch and observe individuals, attorneys and judges in the family court system while I was waiting for my various hearing dates.

As a litigation paralegal (before I became an attorney) I had the opportunity to attend court, meet with judges, meet with clients, interview witnesses, attend hearings, participate in depositions, meet with court clerks  and testify in cases in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  This experience was gained over about a decade and a half.

It is an interesting perspective to literally have the experience to have been on all sides of the coin where lawyers and the court system are concerned.

Yet what did I glean from this?  From where I began as a novice to now being a practitioner of the law, what are my ideas, thoughts and opinions?  Even if I were to express my opinions on Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers or Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorneys or Rhode Island Superior Court Trial Attorneys, would my ideas and opinions be tainted?

I can but say that my opinions are the sum total of my experience and since opinions are themselves subjective statements of what I believe that they are to some degree tainted.  Unfortunately, opinions are by their very nature tainted.

I think many of us recall much more of the negative than we do the positive in life.  If we receive 10 compliments during the day from co-workers and colleagues yet we receive one negative statement, we are more likely to remember the one negative statement.  If anything this is something to keep in mind if you were to do your own analysis to reach your own opinion.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty is to address a group as a whole.  In this case I have focused upon Rhode Island lawyers only because this is the demographic and geographic area that I form a part of and, of course, is the location where the little book of "500 Lawyer Jokes" began this whole journey into considering whether or not the perceived black eye that attorneys have in the eyes of the general public is one that has simply carried on as a matter of course or whether there might be a basis for its justification.

So, without further procrastination let me get to my thought process.  Every since I can remember, even into my childhood, a good majority of jokes have been aimed at attorneys and the theme of those jokes has been their arrogance, greed and ability to skillfully lie and cheat.  This is certainly not the picture that most lawyers would like to project for their Rhode Island law practice.  Clients buying into this mantra of jokes most assuredly do not want to pay hundreds of dollars per hour for a professional to potentially swindle them out of their hard earned money.

As a litigation paralegal for many years (with various employers) I had the opportunity to see several attorneys blatantly violate the Professional Rules of Ethical Conduct as if they didn't exist.  I've  had the unfortunate displeasure to see practices that equate to double billing a client or in the very least overbilling the client.

As a litigation paralegal I have been asked by attorneys to tamper with court files and demanded to violate criminal laws.  I am happy to say that in each case I found a solution that was within ethical and moral parameters that did not violate any criminal laws nor did my subject any attorneys to disciplinary action though I cannot say the same for the rebukes I received for not "doing what I was told".

I have now been a practicing attorney for some time.  Though I focus my practice in the areas of Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law Issues, I take on various other cases that I am equally capable of handling and do so with considerable zealousness for my clients.  My adventures into the practice of Rhode Island law have taken me before most of the Rhode Island Small Claims, District, Family and Superior Courts.

In the time I have been practicing I have filed and/or joined in two discipinary complaints to Rhode Island Disciplinary Counsel for conduct that I felt was so horrendous by an attorney that it should not go unanswered.  The first complaint which I believe was replete with evident violations was dismissed without an opportunity for hearing, a result that I found professionally offensive as a legal practitioner and personally offensive as a citizen of Rhode Island.  The second complaint is in the filing stage and I am hopeful that it will be taken with the seriousness it deserves despite the fact that it does not rise to the magnitude of the previous complaint.

This is not to say that any opinion should be based upon two such instances by two attorneys that I may personally believe are "bad eggs" that give us a bad name.  Yet the opinion I reach personally is based upon more than simply my experience in these two instances and my exposure as a paralegal to conduct that I found personally repugnant and in some instances would have placed me and one or more attorneys in violation of federal criminal laws were it not for my quick thinking on various alternatives that were morally acceptable and professionally ethical.

In reflecting on my current opinion, that lawyers and attorneys (and in this case Rhode Island lawyers and attorneys-at-law) do in fact deserve the long standing black eye that is perceived by the public, I must credit my last three (3) years while practicing law in Rhode Island.

During my past three years I have watched and listened.  On several occasions in several courts I have witnessed judges who refused to give litigants a hearing on a particular matter or otherwise arranged their calendars in such a fashion that litigants were put off so long or prejudiced by so many continuances that it prohibited them from having access to their witnesses and evidence became stale. 

I have witnessed attorneys who make one representation to me outside of the judge's hearing and then either go into open court or in a chambers conference with a judge and make a completely opposite representation to the court.  I have had occasion when attorneys made material misrepresentations to a judge in order to prejudice my client when they had no factual information for making their "factual" statements when they were just machinations contrived by one party to injure the other party.

I have witnessed attorneys who have gone before the court on behalf of their client against an individual who was representing himself or herself and allowed material omissions to be left out before the judge such that the person who was acting "pro se" was either prejudiced, "locked up" for contempt, or otherwise injured when such injury would not have occurred if the individual had enough money to afford an attorney.

Perhaps most significantly are the number of times I have had the opportunity to witness attorneys lie to judges on the record of the court by making factual statements and representations as counsel (not under oath) when they know full well that the truth is easily verifiable but that the verification could not be accomplished at the time that the representations are being made and the damage is already done.

It could well be that I am painting a bad picture of attorneys and the judicial system both in Rhode Island and in other states.  This is not particularly my intention in making this expression and in discussing my own opinion on the subject.  It is with considerable disappointment and even anger at times, that I must admit that my chosen profession may well be deserving of the black eye that the public has perceived for so long.

Perhaps this blog article is self-serving, though that is far from its intention.  It is with a great degree of passion and enthusiasm for my clients that I confirm for you that there ARE good Rhode Island lawyers out there that do care about their clients and they do, in fact, act professionally, ethically and in line with the best interests of their clients.

Obviously there are more attorneys in Rhode Island than I could survey or even know on such an indepth level that I could give with mathematical certainty whether there are truly a majority of good attorneys out there or, conversely a majority of poor practitioners hellbent on their own goals and income.

My law practice continues and I am truly hopeful that my opinion will change as my exposure to more and more attorneys broadens, yet in the past three years the negatives outweigh the positives at least 4 to 1 as between what I can only refer to as reputable practitioners versus disreputable ones.

I can but hope that client's will continue to find me or that if I am not the practitioner with the "right fit" for the client that I can, in the very least, steer the prospective client to a reputable practitioner who will protect their interests (both legal and non-legal) and do it right and for a reasonable fee.

Does the Rhode Island legal profession deserve the black eye that is perceived by the public?  As of today, with my current experiences . . . I'm sorry to hold the personal opinion that we do.

Unprincipled attorneys should be the exception. . . . not the rule.


Rhode Island Lawyers . Divorce or otherwise . . do they deserve the black eye?

Ever since I was in high school I've heard lawyer jokes.  When I became a litigation paralegal many years ago I became patently more aware that they existed and heard them even more.  Today I don't hear them as much.  Why?  Probably because I'm a Rhode Island lawyer and there are a good many people who are decent enough not to simply throw out a tasteless (or even tasteful) joke at parties or gatherings simply to have a laugh by insulting my chosen profession.

In truth, most people would agree that personally I have a fairly good sense of humor and that I could (and in all probability would) appreciate a well-told joke regardless of any negative connotation that it may have on my chosen profession.  I mean, let's face it. . . .most jokes poke fun at what people perceive (albeit stereotypically) as a dominant trait of a profession, race, religion, etc...

In fact, on our office coffee table we have a book of 500 Lawyer Jokes for those waiting to meet with us.  This little book and the idea of jokes about our profession actually spawned a brief conversation between a few of my Rhode Island colleagues, myself included.

First, the attorney who actually provided the book to us for the table found it to be ironic and expressed that clients would probably appreciate it that an attorney's office would have such a book for their clients not only in plain view but literally placed right in front of them so they would almost certainly read it.  The message conveyed to clients and visitors in this case seemed to be that we as lawyers are not so stuffy, pompous and overly professional that we cannot step back and either "look at the lighter side of our profession as lawyers" or laugh at ourselves and colleagues who, though lawyers, may have made atypical bunders that are in truth funny or downright hilarious.


Now another Rhode Island attorney who came into the office found the book personally offensive and thought it inappropriate to have the book at all.  This attorney's feeling was that lawyers as a profession have been ridiculed for years and a gross mis-impression has been presented to the public that we are all greedy thieves who make too much money and only survive to see how much money we can get out of people. My colleague's opinion was that by providing such a book to clients we are perpetuating and fueling the bad sentiments of the public toward lawyers.

Then there is me.  I'm undecided on the subject of this little book.  In the scope of a law practice, the big picture of world events,  the struggles of those who barely survived in the wake of Katrina's devastation, this little book seems so trivial and yet it still has a place and plays even the smallest role societies perception of the profession or even the person (or people) who have the book such that people continue to make judgments and those judgments still affect business and personal decisions about who we will and will not work with, who we will hire and who we won't and even who we will associate with.  It is, to say the least, a small yet interesting philosophical maze of thought.

There is, however, one point upon which I can generally agree.  The general public consensus reveals that lawyers are not looked upon well and they have received a "black eye" as far as professions go.  As a Rhode Island lawyer I fell into family law more by accident and necessity than anything when I first began my law practice.   Today focus my practice on Rhode Island divorce and family law issues.

Today, however, I find myself contemplating this little book of 500 Lawyer Jokes and the opinions of my colleagues as well as what I know to be a fairly consistent consensus of the general populous that by and large most lawyers (divorce, family law or otherwise)  are cheats and swindlers that are overpaid and can't be trusted.

The conclusion I come to is somewhat self-informative.  We as attorneys (in various areas of law) have a black eye in the community and the public at large.

I found this much more fascinating and much more significant than the little book on the waiting room table.  Yet this is a thought process that is far from complete and will take a bit more pondering.

In closing this particular blog post, I have no true opinion on the little book itself.  It can stay.  It can go.  It's a book.  It's information.  It's entertainment.  Just as the author has the right to poke fun at the legal profession which is still only made up of people who do make mistakes which are sometimes hilarious, I believe that clients should be able to read such things if they like.  If I can't laugh at myself and at those who artfully poke fun at my profession then my skin is a bit too thin for me to be practicing in my own profession.  Pride in my profession does not mean I need to be intolerant of others or their writings.

The more crucial question I will ponder for the continuation of this blog article is this.

Whether as a Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law Lawyer or a Rhode Island Superior Court Litigation Attorney or an Estate Planning Lawyer my profession has a "black eye" in view of the public, is the black eye misconceived or is it well-deserved?

I'll keep you posted as this philosophical joust continues.

In the meantime, there are still good Rhode Island Lawyers out there and I'm happy to assist anyone with their divorce and/or family law issue.  Yet to the extent that I am not the right attorney for you or the match simply isn't there, I am familiar with several attorneys in Rhode Island besides myself that I believe are also atypical of the black eye our profession may have and I can recommend them unwaveringly and without hesitation to help you in any of the various legal matters you may encounter.


Rhode Island Divorce . . . Unchecked Emotion Prevents Motion!

Divorce proceedings are difficult. 

Emotion is perhaps the greatest factor that affects divorce proceedings. 

Divorce itself is merely a legal mechanism for the division of a contractual partnership between two spouses that no longer functions for both parties. However, because it is interwoven with the relationship between the spouses, emotions can easily come to the forefront as hurt, rage, sadness, depression, greed, envy and loss.

Emotions are powerful. They can too easily clutter the mind and cloud a party from reason and common sense.  Without a good mental health counselor or even legal counselor to help keep you on the right path of what is practical, commonsensical, and in your best interests mentally, physically and/or financially it is easy for emotions to set you back in a divorce further than you thought possible. 

Emotions can become a hinge pin in your divorce.  If you allow your emotions to control your decision making then they can prevent positive forward motion of a divorce in your favor or send you on a backward momentum that prevents you from moving forward and causing you even more loss and pain.

Hiring the right divorce lawyer can ease your emotional hinge pin.   An experienced family law attorney who is professionally and personally familiar with the family law process can help guide you through the legal turmoil and the emotional destruction that comes from vindictive spouses, feelings of abandonment, rejection, rage, and failure.  If you are lucky enough to find a lawyer who has been through the process they will likely be empathetic to what you are going through and make the process easier.

When searching for the right attorney for you, balance is key.  Does the attorney demonstrate experience in the area of divorce and family law issues in Rhode Island?  Does the attorney regularly practice before the family courts in Rhode Island? Does the attorney appreciate your non-legal concerns about the relationship itself and endeavor to anticipate what effect this might have on you in the future emotionally, legally and possibly financially?  Has the attorney experienced the family court system himself or herself so he or she can truly appreciate how important your matter is to you?

Emotion when left unchecked often prevents positive Motion in a divorce so you can get to the end of the proceeding and move forward with your life!  One of the best things you can do for yourself is to find the right experienced lawyer who cares about you!

Get the right divorce attorney and you may just help yourself to restore the positive motion back in your life.