Someone recently showed me a bar coaster that was being used advertising for a divorce lawyer. While amusing, maybe, are gimmicks, as opposed to something that suggests knowledge, expertise and/or experience, how you really want to find the lawyer that will be shepherding you through a very difficult time? Similarly, when you see an ad where someone proclaims themself to the be absolute “best”, should your radar go up? Aside from being potentially unethical, should you be concerned when someone needs to proclaim themselves the best?
This all reminds me of a blog I posted a few years ago. One weekend, I was driving around town and saw many lawn signs, like those you would see for a political candidate, advertising a “Free Divorce Seminar.” The old adage, “you get what you paid for” came to mind.
While I am aware of the phenomena of these “seminars” over the last several years, putting aside potential conflict of interest issues that could perhaps be created, is this the type of thing that one contemplating a divorce should be attending? Or rather, should a person schedule an honest to goodness divorce consultation with an attorney to which they have been referred or otherwise have researched?
There is no privacy or anonymity at the seminar – you may see neighbors, parents of your children’s classmates, etc. There is no confidentiality or privilege at a seminar. You have these things at an initial consultation.
You cannot ask confidential questions at a seminar; maybe you cannot ask questions at all (and the smart attorney probably would not take questions for risk of prematurely creating an attorney client relationship.) You cannot show the attorney any pertinent document for the same reason. And how can you develop a rapport with a speaker at a seminar? The seminar can never be tailored to your special circumstances because one size never fits all. At a seminar, you cannot really probe the presenter’s experience, depth of staff and other resources of the firm, ability to commit to your case, etc.
At the end of the day, a one-on-one consultation, even if you have to pay for it, will be far more worthwhile to protect your dignity and get the attention and information you deserve. Amd beware of gimmicks that don’t deliver content or value. Enjoy the joke, but them make sure to find the right professional for you.
Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or firstname.lastname@example.org.