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In our second of the two articles on Lessons From the “Marriage Story” Movie, we talk about the top three lessons lawyers may learn from the film by looking at three very distinct types of divorce lawyers.
1. Keep Your Personal Prejudices and Professional Advice Separate
Nicole’s divorce lawyer, Nora (Laura Dern’s character), is a walking case of a friendly yet aggressive family lawyer who sometimes forgets her job as a lawyer. Rather, she presented herself more like a personal therapist to her client. Nora’s emotional attachment to the case and
inappropriate aggressiveness provided much comedic relief but also brought about some resonances to reality. As demonstrated by Nora, bringing in many of her own personal prejudices to the table when advising and negotiating – though perhaps subconsciously.
2. Not Just About Winning
Charlie’s first divorce lawyer, Jay (Ray Liotta’s character), appeared as an aggressive and costly lawyer. He had a big ego and fixated on winning as if Charlie’s case is a competition or game against Nora. In his eyes, he only cared about whether he would be able to win the case for Charlie and did not care too much about what Charlie actually wanted, namely, a peaceful and simple divorce. Jay also did not appear to care about whether Charlie understood the legal jargons and consequences of divorce and his well-being (whether emotionally, financially or otherwise).
3. Human-touch Goes a Long Way
A client going through a divorce needs to be treated with extra care, especially with some human-touch. Not only was Charlie’s second lawyer, Bert (Alan Alda’s character) able to turn complex legal-jargons and procedures to sentences understandable by laymen, he was able to gain Charlie’s trust through honest and yet practical conversations.
As mentioned in the movie, Bert says to Charlie:
“Most people in my business, you’re just transactions to them. I like to think of you as people.”
Having some human-touch can go a long way and may be able to gain your clients’ trust, respect and sometimes even calm them in emotional distress situations.
A good family lawyer should have a balanced character of the three aforementioned examples. He should strike a balance between having the appropriate desire to win and not letting his professionalism be blurred by his personal prejudice or ego. He should also show some empathy and human-touch but not overpowering his clients’ ultimate desires or goals. What type of family lawyer are you?
Disclaimer: The article is for reference only and should not be construed or relied on as legal advice in whatsoever manner. Please engage a solicitor to seek formal legal advice. LegalClarus does not provide legal advice.