Divorce Cases Are Terrible For Narcissists Like Me | Above the Law

I find divorce cases thoroughly dissatisfying on a professional level.

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Divorce Cases Are Terrible For Narcissists Like Me

by Atticus T. Lunch

It’s been a while since I have written a column. The reason for this, as I assume you will assume, is that I have been insanely busy. After a series of trials, state supreme court briefs, and various other pleadings and hearings that kept me from writing my column the previous two weeks, I had every intention of writing my column last weekend. That was, of course, until I received a phone call from a court in the hinterlands of my state. You see, they run a trailing docket for divorce cases, which — and I don’t know just how frequently they are used elsewhere — means that I was ostensibly subject to being called for trial on any day for an entire week and a half. This call came on Thursday for a trial the following Tuesday. As I have previously discussed, I really don’t enjoy doing divorce cases. But an economic reality of practicing law in a small town or city is that they are a steady and generally efficient way to supplement your other work. So, they become hard to say no to, especially because on limited discovery and with some experience, one can effectively prep them in a weekend. [1]

In prepping for last week’s trial, and in trying last week’s trial, I was able to finally condense the reasons I find divorce cases so thoroughly dissatisfying on a professional level to an easily and conveniently digestible precept: I am a narcissist.

My narcissism is adversely affected by divorce cases in three ways:

  1. The degree of control that an attorney has on the outcome in a divorce case is, in my experience, relatively limited. [2]Sure, in all other areas of the law, the outcome is often predicated on circumstances of our clients that are beyond our control. However, it seems to me that is even truer in divorce cases. The judge is going to do equity. And particularly as it regards the allocation of resources, the range of outcomes is quite limited. Whereas, in a normal civil case, the range of outcomes spans the entire playing field, in a divorce case it seems as if we’re all fighting over 10 yards between the 45-yard lines. I don’t like that. I like to know that my work has a real and significant impact on the game.
  2. I like it when people like me. It’s cool with me if someone hates me, but I like it if at least one person — preferably my client — likes me. That doesn’t so much happen in divorce cases. Sure, if I’m doing my job well, the party opponent hates me. But, in the end, it’s really hard to get your client to like you. There really isn’t a winner and a loser. Everyone loses. Two people can’t ever maintain the life that they had before. Both parties are walking away from the divorce with things they don’t like. And it is my experience that they remember all of the things they don’t like and disregard the things they should. I am certain that there are some truly wonderful professionals that are unaffected by this. I’m not one of them. I want my clients to think I’m the damned bee’s knees. I would never be able to sustain a practice based on divorce cases alone. I need my tank filled with client appreciation. That seems hard to achieve in divorce cases.
  3. I lack the ability to tolerate bad decision making. When I was a younger attorney, and working at a mid-size firm, I was once scolded by a senior partner who does divorces as his sole practice. The reason: I talked a client who wanted to go to trial — out of spite — into settling on terms that significantly minimized her risk and saved significant sums in trial expense. Hmmm…in rereading that last sentence, it looks like I stressed the part that makes me look good. I’m sure in part I knew that trying the case would lead to a worse result than the offered settlement, and as a result I’d look bad. [3]The partner was angry, because, in his words, “as long as you tell them the risk, it’s none of our business if they want to give us their money to fight losing battles!” Yea, I guess I can’t achieve that level of psychic distance from my cases. I’ll continue to do divorce cases. I won’t, however, ever like them.

How the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. Can Help

If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to defend your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.

Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.

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