THE "I'VE MET WITH A LAWYER" THREAT
Sometimes I feel used. This happens when I see a potential client whom I know has no intention of actually getting divorced. No, he or she is only there to pick up my business card and bring it home with the intent of "accidentally" leaving it in sight. I can always tell when this is happening. The consultation usually consists of the client telling me all the terrible things that his or her spouse has done and continues to do. There are hardly any questions, and the surest sign? There is never a question about fees or what it will cost. I started thinking about this after recently watching an episode of "Vinyl," a mini series about the rapid descent and destruction of a former super successful record producer. In one particular scene his wife is at a consultation with a divorce lawyer. At the end of the consult the lawyer asks the wife if she has her checkbook. The wife responds that she does, and the lawyer says, "that will be $150.00." When the wife begins to protest that there wasn't supposed to be a consultation fee, the lawyer turns to her and says words to the effect that it is clear this wife is still in love with her husband and just wasted an hour of her time all so she could tell her husband that she has been to see a divorce attorney. Guess what? The Wife does tell her husband that she went to see a divorce attorney and nothing changes.
While I have had many an hour or more wasted on this type of "consultation," I have never charged for it. Why? Empathy.
So what is going on here? I feel for this client. He or she DOES in fact love his or her wife, but at the same time is in such pain and turmoil because it is a bad marriage. This client desperately wants to be noticed, heard, loved, appreciated, or whatever it is that his or her spouse can't or won't give. The client comes to my office with hope that maybe by doing so, he or she will change his or her spouse. Unfortunately, I don't believe it works.
I don't believe you can change anyone except yourself, and even that is hard to do. I do think that for this type of "client" it is both smart and empowering to go and pay this type of visit with a divorce lawyer- BUT only if he or she keeps it a secret. Once the secret is out, it's merely an empty threat.