I sometimes wonder if our clients realize just how much we relate to their frustration when the other player doesn’t follow the rules of the game. When you return Jackson and Emily at precisely at noon like the court order says while the other parent strolls in 45 minutes late without so much as a “sorry”. When you pay the mortgage by the due date but your spouse pays support 29 days after it’s due. When you provide bank statement for 3 years while the other can’t seem to muster up last month’s paystub.
It’s not fair. It’s just not fair. Believe me, we know how you feel.
In our office, we find ourselves uttering the same words. When we submit required documents by the court deadline and the other attorney doesn’t. When we respond to every letter received while the other side ignores ours. When we point out an error in a financial calculation, even though it is to the benefit of the other party?
“It’s not fair. It’s just not fair!” we lament.
Still, we ask our clients to play fair and we try to, too. We use creative legal strategy, attention to detail, and aggressiveness where needed, but we believe in following the rules of the game whether the other side does or not.
Trust with other lawyers. When you have a reputation for being honest, other attorneys can trust your word. This facilitates negotiation, lowers legal fees for both sides, and reduces much of the unnecessary acrimony that accompanies divorce.
Our reputation with judges. Judges struggle with whom to believe. People lie under oath on the witness stand every day. When a judge has two lawyers each pointing their finger at the other, I’d rather be the other who has the reputation for following the rules.
To practice what we preach. We ask our clients to act with integrity. To make their children a priority. To comply with court orders. To follow agreements reached whether they are in writing or not. Our legal team expects no less of itself.
To improve the profession. Too much of those in the legal profession focus on the battle and uses any tactic to win, regardless of the price to families. Broken promises, rules ignored, ethical violations, and outright lies. To that end, we want to do our part to make the practice of law better.
To strengthen our ethical muscles. Making good ethical decisions isn’t always easy. Competing interests can make it tough. The more we practice doing the right thing in small ways, the easier it is to do the right thing when the stakes are highest.
To be true to ourselves. When we let the behavior of others determine how we act, we stop taking responsibility for living true to our own values. Sure, we can justify behaving as badly as the other guy (After all, we are excellent experts at making a case for our side.), but we know there is only one face we see in the mirror at the end of the day.
To fulfill our mission. It might surprise some people to know that a divorce law firm has a deeply held mission. We strive to live and breathe it each day. Ours includes not simply playing fair, but playing an even bigger game. It’s this:
To courageously search for justice,
zealously advocate for our clients,
provide a supportive environment, and
lead change in the experience of divorce.
— Koenig│Dunne Divorce Law, PC, LLO