Advantage Denton

October 28, 2011

Finding a Lawyer is Scary

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 3:48 pm
Melissa Denton

Melissa Denton

Halloween is not scary.  I’ll tell you what is really scary. Finding a lawyer. That is scary. For one thing, many people have noticed that all of us attorneys have dripping fangs and are really mean. Another factor in making us scary is that we can sue the pants off of just about anybody. We lawyers often have awful  “bedside manner”. What lawyers do is powerful, mysterious, and invisible to the normal human.  When you have one of these scary shamans doing work on your behalf, it is quite likely that you won’t want to (or be able to) understand everything they are doing for you. You have to trust them.

Here’s the news, you don’t have to venture into that dark forest of lawyer finding by yourself. The service we provide at Advantage Denton is a “head hunter” (sounds scary, right?) for the little guy. We help you by figuring out what kind of lawyer you need and then researching and finding the right lawyer for you.

“Right lawyer” includes consideration of :

  1. where the lawyer’s office should be located
  2. the areas of practice that the attorney practices in and what emphasis they place on the area of law that you need help with
  3. the level of experience of the lawyer that we believe is appropriate for the type of problem you have
  4. a check to make sure that the lawyer does not have ethical violations – it would be rare for us to get a lawyer for you who has had ethical sanctions & never without telling you fully
  5. determination of what size law firm is best going to meet your needs
  6. a review of the attorney’s advertising and other online written materials to assess their personality and focus to see if they are a good fit for you
  7. we call the right lawyer to tell them about your case and set an appointment for them to meet with you for a free 30 minute consultation

As you can see, this looks like a lot of work from a very highly qualified person for only $99. When you also consider that you are receiving a free 30 minute consultation, it seems almost scary – too good to be true. Well, this one time it works out that this is a great deal for everyone, you, the lawyer and the lawyer finder. We are very efficient at our job because we really know what we are doing. It is a very fun job, kind of like working with the birthing babies part of working in a hospital. You get connected to the right lawyer and get the right advice and help for the legal issue you face. The lawyer invests 30 minutes meeting with a client chosen for them who knows the value of legal services and already put up $99 to find the right lawyer.

Win Win Win. Now that is not so scary, is it?

August 2, 2011

Newfangled Technology and the Radical Experiment

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , — Melissa Denton @ 8:29 am
Picture of Melissa Denton at the office

Picture of Melissa Denton at the office

I tried a radical experiment on Sunday. Originally, it was to be a day without computer technology. Sounds simple, right? No computers for a day. Gotta be easy. Couldn’t do it.

If you say no TV for a day, that has meaning and that is most of my days. No computer for a day could mean many things. If you are just talking no laptop or desktop computer, that is most of my weekends. If you are talking no Android smart phone and no iPad altogether, that is not at all reasonable.

On Sunday we went to a new dim sum restaurant in Seattle and to a play in downtown Seattle where we rarely go. OK, I rationalized, need to use Google Maps turn by turn navigation. We coordinated with other people regarding meals, play and transportation. OK, gotta use the phone and the voice dialing is necessary because I sure don’t have all of those phone numbers memorized these days. As evening fell, I realized that my library book must be read on the iPad.

Here’s the compromise: no using social networks or email for a whole day. It was hard. I thought of tweets I could send, wondered how my tweeps were reacting to the budget crisis solution, and suppressed the urge to check email several times. Facebook apparently did not cease to exist without my checking it.

This reminds me of how folks react each time a new technology is introduced. When that newfangled telephone thing was introduced, detractors were sure that it was the road to perdition. Who knows how horrible human relationships will end up being when you are always talking to someone who is not even really right here? New technology is resisted at first and then becomes part of everyday normal life and most essential to the disabled and those who overuse it. My experiment was an attempt to show myself I am not in unhealthy addiction.

I may need to reduce time spent on social networking and that was the genesis of my failed no computer experiment. Right now I am resisting spending time on Google+ but expect that it will end up being the best social network because it is smart to target who sees which posts. Google+ is also convenient because posts can be longer than Twitter allows, but perhaps it is not convenient to read longer than Twitter allows.

In the meantime, I am not eager to repeat my experiment. Computers, telephones, social networks, and email are a big part of my life and I strongly prefer not to do without them. Isn’t that odd.

June 12, 2011

Weiner’s Tomfoolery is Worse Than Clinton’s

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 4:38 pm

Why do I still defend Bill Clinton’s presidential performance while saying that I would not elect Representative Weiner as a dog catcher? While it is true that I am a huge fan of Bill Clinton’s work and never heard of Anthony Weiner until the recent scandal erupted, my opinion on this issue has nothing to do with political philosophies.

I am disgusted by both men being unfaithful to their wives and sincerely pray that my immediate family will be immune from such horrid events. Both men lied when they were caught. Both should have known better and should have been smart enough to at least not get caught by the public and their political enemies. So what is the difference?

Representative Weiner was so foolish and lacked fundamental judgement to such an extreme degree that he was sending pictures of his underwear clad erection to a stranger and he was stupid enough to do it publicly. By his own admission, he has been similarly corresponding with a number of other women whom he does not know. How can I trust a congressman to make good decisions on laws when he does not have the judgement or self control to practice his sexual perversions in a more discrete manner? Such foolishness disqualifies one for public office.

How is William Jefferson Clinton’s case different? Though it is entirely reprehensible for him to have sexual congress outside of his marriage, his choice of partner and mode of sinning was intended to be very discrete. No one has made a case that the woman with whom he dallied was a stranger or someone he should know would betray his confidence. He did not use public modes of communication to carry out his peccadillo. His was a much more old fashioned foolishness which did not reflect such an idiotic measure of recklessness. While anyone having an affair risks blackmail and disclosure, we would have very few persons in positions of power throughout history if we used some means of efficiently eliminating all leaders who strayed from marriage vows.

I don’t hire professionals based upon being without human flaws and I don’t vote only for perfect people. I do, however, vigorously avoid relying on people in positions of great power when they don’t make at least reasonable efforts to be discrete about their vices. When a political official has so little self control or so little judgement that they advertise on Craigslist with pictures of their naked torso or when they send tumescent underwear photos to strangers by public tweet, they are unfit for office.

When we search for the right lawyer for a client at Advantage Denton, these same principles come into play. We don’t expect lawyers to be perfect human beings. We don’t expect them to be free from all controversy. We do look closely to see if they handle pressure with grace, if they are at least aware of the public impression they make and if they have the critical skills and background to help you when you hire us to find the right lawyer. Have us find the right lawyer for you.

June 3, 2011

Is Discussion of Weiner’s Tweet Bad?

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 12:58 pm

Is it bad manners or unwise to read or participate in discussion of the foibles of prominent people? This is interesting to me right now because of two different embarrassing events I’ve seen chatter about recently.

One of these stories is the nation-wide discussion of US House of Representatives Member Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account having sent a picture of a man’s underwear clad body in a public Tweet to a 21 year old college student who does not personally know him and who happened to be one of his many followers.

The other discussion is on a lawyers only listserv about a Seattle lawyer who was caught with a “bait” car as he scratched it with a key and left a nasty note as he had done with other incorrectly parked cars in the same garage at his work.

In the first story, I’ve seen fairly clumsy denials by the accused (doubtless with the assistance of his advisors). Some very astute media folk and comedians have gleefully analyzed the evidence thus far and have concluded that Weiner did actually send the tweet. I also saw a very interesting analysis that seemed like a conspiracy theory, but contained compelling arguments, nonetheless. It implied that someone supportive of Justice Clarence Thomas is behind this cyber-error because the tweet happened on the same day that Justice Thomas’s financial disclosure was made public and Weiner has been a very public critic of Thomas’s conflicts of interest lately. A sexualized, race tinged (the tweet designee is black and Weiner is white) discrediting effort is eerily reminiscent of Justice Thomas’s Senate confirmation hearings.

The second, embarrassed lawyer car defacing discussion, is interesting because of how lawyers are talking about talking about it. A few lawyers brought the issue up and provided links to a news story on this colleague. A few lawyers (who did not personally know this chap) made some mildly pithy comments. A few lawyers chided the others for gossip and for kicking a man when he is down and stressed. Someone pointed out that judging another is risky business and yet another lawyer pointed out that this sensitivity seems to be reserved only for colleagues and friends.

Is it just human nature to discuss others’ problems? Is it a baser part of our nature that we should strive to replace with nobler instincts? Unkind discussion of another person’s error certainly makes you a candidate for closer examination of your own mistakes. Should we ever find satisfaction in the misfortune of others? How about when “poetic justice” seems to have been served or when someone gets “hoisted by their own petard”?

It would be just peachy if I could reduce this moral conundrum to a clear maxim to police myself by. For the moment, however, I will make do with trying to make decisions that I think are reasonable and kind, in deeds, in words, and in my own thoughts. It does not seem outrageous to me to be curious about the apparent errors of others and it is abhorrent to me to pass judgement on others when doing so is not necessary to decide my own course of action. I find this interesting. Do you?

Update: On Monday after I wrote this blog post on Friday, Representative Weiner admitted that he had posted the underwear clad picture and had sent many other sexually oriented pictures and messages to women he did not know on the internet. Wow. Ick.

March 31, 2011

The Available Light is Off

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 5:19 pm

Picture of Melissa Denton at the office

This post is a follow up to the last article I wrote about Bum Magnets. Although I have been working with the concept of some folks being “Bum Magnets” for quite a while, this is a new, somehow derivative, concept.

I figured this out when I had a consultation with a woman who had experienced two consecutive relationships with men who turned out to be – how to put this gently – perverts. Since she had children with the first husband and the second one molested a different child shortly after they married, she was in serious need of lawyer services and advice.

Her situation made me think about my own life experience and about the other cases I have encountered when normal sensible women end up in relationships with men who are sexual deviants. It also brought to mind the men who are pursued by women, even when the men are behaving themselves in accord with the norms of a monogamous committed relationship with another woman.

My own experience is that I have been in a committed relationship with my husband since we were undergraduates in college. I do not look for other men to have any relationship with me beyond family, friend, or colleague. My “available light” is definitely in the off position and everyone is easily able to tell it. Men who convey to me that they are sexually interested in me despite that clear signal are very rare. I can only recall two or three of them in all of these years.

I was quite aware of these fellows who were interested in me and I did not cooperate in any way. Not only was I not interested in them, but I would never hurt my husband by being unfaithful. Regardless of that, it turned out that my work as a family law attorney brought me into contact with information about both of the men I am thinking of which proved them to be flaming sexual deviants. Such people do end up in court, you know.

This brings me back to my client who told me that she definitely was not even looking for a relationship when she met her second husband. She was completely wrapped up in her kids, her demanding work and fending off the dangerous ex who is out of the country. Now that I think about it and connect the concepts, I think that is why she ended up with an undesirable mate.

If you don’t have the “available light” on and someone comes on to you anyway, I think you should be extremely careful about that person. Have an extensive background check done before letting them into your life. My client had researched the second husband’s background, but there was nothing to be found to indicate he was a child molester. Not her fault.

If you want a relationship, turn on the available light and the proper sorts of people will be attracted to you. If you are not in the market for a relationship, keep the light off and be extremely suspicious of anyone who pursues you. If you choose to fall for the advances of a person who pursues you under these circumstances, beware their inappropriate boundaries and the negative consequences that will follow. Predators stalk the unwary and your guard is down when you are not even in the game.

March 1, 2011

Bum Magnets

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 3:51 pm

Melissa DentonA Bum Magnet is a person who finds herself or himself repeatedly in relationships with abusive “user” romantic partners. The Magnet is usually a fine “normal” functioning person who does come to realize the error they made in choosing a partner and they take steps to fix the problem. Steps like hiring me.

Let me hasten to point out that most of my clients are not “Bum Magnets” and most of the opposing parties are not “Bums”. I am talking about only the fairly small percentage of folks who have engaged in repeated relationships where other persons take fairly severe advantage of them.

Bums are usually of the unaware, bumbling, variety. They are clever at starting up relationships with the useful sort of target, but they see themselves as the victim and have greater psychological disfunction than the victim does. A class I went to on perpetrators of domestic violence called these individuals “junk yard dogs” as juxtaposed with psychopath “snakes” who are intentionally evil.

Believe me, if I can tell that you are a Bum Magnet, you smell plenty fine from very far off to the Bums who will next be attracted to you. Part of being a Bum Magnet includes being insecure in some fundamental ways, even though most such folk look and function entirely competently in the bigger world. Another part of being a Bum Magnet relates to having a need to take care of and “fix” other people. Bums instinctively know exactly how to seduce Bum Magnets by acting like an ideal relationship partner for long enough to get a committed relationship.

While it is the main part of my job to extricate people as painlessly and inexpensively as possible from their current set of troubles, I seriously do want to be instrumental in setting my clients up for future success. I try to help people get fixed up so they don’t need me any more. (Just as a good doctor will try to get you all healthy so you don’t need more medicine or appointments.) One thing I do is model how to be strong and assertive with good communication skills. For Bum Magnets, particularly, one of the first things I always encourage is getting help from a good mental health counselor.

It is likely that the mental health professionals have a nicer term to use than “Bum Magnet”, but I doubt that their term is more descriptive. The way I envision the counselor helping the Magnet is to help him or her figure out what behaviors and attitudes cause them to smell so attractive to Bums. I hope that counseling will help my client with role playing and other tools to learn how to quickly get away from Bums and how to repel them before they ever approach. I hope that this help results in benefits for my client’s children so they won’t be Bum Magnets.

I am writing about this concept because I think it is interesting and it seems helpful when I talk with some family law clients about it. Probably, the basic concept of a Bum Magnet can be expanded to any “normal/nice” person who has repeated negative interactions being targeted by Bums, in work, play or other venues. Although it is not good for repeat business to help “cure” Bum Magnets, it sure is the right thing to help them have a better life.

January 18, 2011

My Favorite iPad Apps

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , — Melissa Denton @ 5:56 pm

Melissa DentonAn acquaintance just got her much desired iPad and remembered that I am very enthusiastic about my iPad. She wrote an email to me asking which apps she should consider. Well, it is “off topic” for my lawyer finding mission in life, but I do use the iPad considerably in my business life, so I decided to share my recommendations to her with you here. This is what I wrote:
I am so glad for you that you got your iPad! You will be amazed at the many ways you will use it. I will list some of the apps I use. Let me know if you want to know the apps my 10 year old uses as his games – he passionately loves the iPad. Thank heavens he has to divide his little screen time between seven devices and that everyone understands that I have first dibs on the iPad.

The apps I use most are the books, twitter (twitterific is my favorite on any device) and facebook (friendly), along with the built in email and calendar apps.
books: Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Stanza, Google books
productivity: omnifocus ($40!) and Evernote
writing: (actually use) writer, soundnote, (also have) notes, paperdesk, idraft, dictation (dragon naturally speaking)
computer sync: sugarsync, dropbox, logmein
games: angry birds, iphone version of scrabble, wtd, fruit ninja (minimal time with any of ’em, though)
pictures/learning: color splash, photo wall, VanGogh hd, pixyme, artstudio, glowing art/ eyewitness, life, discover, weatherbug, this day (worldbook history)
news: npr, usa today, cnn, “NYT most emailed” I use a lot but it is just a web site icon I pasted on my screen from the web site, I have nyt but don’t use it
shopping: ebay, craigsphone, pricegrabber
movies: netflix, youtube
“ain’t the iPad incredible” apps: uzu, art of glow, kaleidoscope, the elements, gray anatomy, jampad, grogknots, ocarina

I have only scratched the surface of what is out there, but these are a lot of good, mostly free, apps. If I did not use the computer all day at work and some of the time doing chores at home and did not have the most awesome new android Nexus S phone, I might even have more time for iPad. I use the most time on Twitterific and email and reading books. Enjoy!


January 12, 2011

New Year, New Hope

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , — Melissa Denton @ 12:54 am

Melissa DentonThe mere calendar event of changing years motivates a lot of people to resolve to have more self control. Since the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions fail, I prefer to use January as a time for more reflection and, this year, as a time to nurture hope.

We’ve been through some awfully tough times together lately. Some have been more fortunate than others but most of us have genuinely felt the pain, if only that of those around us. Crisis shows what we are made of and sometimes the picture that emerges shows which leaders you want in front of you when survival is at stake. Those who tear down, divide, take cheap shots and are insincere should be shunned as leaders. They may be only making mistakes that anyone could fall into, but risking your all on their judgment is not at all wise.

Finding the silver lining in clouds of despair is a habit of mine. It is such a useful thing to do to look at how to change a bad thing into a good thing. As a lawyer and as a lawyer finder in chief, I sincerely believe in finding the right leaders and the right lawyers. At a difficult time this right choice is a chance to creatively construct the best possible outcome from the most dismal looking circumstance. The right leadership and the right lawyer at the right time can make all the difference. Have us find the right lawyer for you.

December 16, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — Melissa Denton @ 7:01 pm

P1010448When I started writing this blog, things were pretty bleak in our country. Late 2008 was a tough and scary time for all of us. Unlike the crystallized horror of 9/11, the avalanche of financial misery just kept on and on, burying all of us. Lately, we have heard stories of general recovery beginning, but it is hard to believe that things are really getting much better for us as a country and world.

The awful financial troubles of so many often started with specific events that can be remembered with clear anguish. Even more stressful is when your financial world is upside down and you can’t pinpoint the cause. You feel out of control. If you don’t know what you can do differently or don’t feel you have any choices, how can you be safe? Maybe misery does love company and knowing that you are not the only one with hardship makes it feel a bit less personal, but fear of poverty is very painful for many people I know.

When you have a specific problem (like a job loss) it is tough, but possible, to decide what you need to do about it. When you feel like the “world’s gone to hell in a hand basket” it is much harder to get traction on a plan to make things better.

I remember being so frustrated after 9/11 that our president’s only suggestion for action we could take to help was to “go shopping.”

Right now, I hope that our state and national leaders will ask us to act in specific ways to help make the situation better where it will really count. This is a time when great leadership can make a huge difference. We need to all pull together to get out of this mess and avoid being thrown back into it again. Leaders can set out a plan and give a clarion call to action.

If they tell me to “go shopping”, though, I will scream.

November 15, 2010

Radical Lawyering

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 9:57 pm

l_2048_1536_6775E997-A9BC-4951-B3C8-149F6AD1F5D5.jpegToday was a great opportunity for me. I spoke to a wonderful group of family law attorneys in Everett, Washington about One Lawyer.  Most non-lawyers are not aware that this is a radical idea, but many attorneys are horrified by the notion of a lawyer helping people on both sides of a lawsuit, even if the individuals on both sides ask to share a lawyer.

A lot of what we are taught in law school and in the school of hard knocks that follows law school is that lawyers must always focus on self defense. We are a very conservative and law abiding bunch of folk. Most lawyers don’t like to go out on a limb to explore a new idea that might carry risk to themselves.

Usually with a very prim expression and a pursed mouth, many lawyers express the opinion that one should never, never help both sides to a lawsuit. The dire consequences that must come from this are so awful and evil that they are not even described. Those consequences must include disbarment, dismemberment and bankruptcy, so sure are the naysayers of this practice.

Being a person with a more open mind (but not so open that my brain falls out), I decided to challenge this notion several years back. In 2004, I came up with the idea for One Lawyer. Since I have been trained as a mediator and as a collaborative law attorney, it seemed to me that there should be a way for folks who agree with each other to be able to hire only one attorney.

You might think that they don’t need any attorney if they agree with each other, but you would be thinking wrong. Having a lawyer help you both understand the legal rules about all the agreements you believe you have reached and point out any gaping holes or errors in logic is extremely valuable when all of your assets, all of your debts and your relationships with children are at issue. When you hire only one lawyer to help both of you, there is no worry about the other person’s lawyer telling them some sneaky secret tactic that will disadvantage you.

When you use One Lawyer, you both hear the good, the bad and the ugly of both sides of your case at the same time. You go into the decision making from a position of knowledge and power that is equal for both of you. Without a lawyer involved, you are the blind leading the blind (even if you are well meaning blind folk, this is a mission where you need someone seeing the whole picture to help you). One of the best things that One Lawyer brings to you is the paperwork being written up correctly in a way that actually accomplishes what you intended to accomplish. When non-lawyers write court documents up, they often end up with unintended results.

The lawyers I spoke to today were, without exception, gracious and willing to engage in open discussion about this radical idea. Self protection/nothing new fear was not pervasive. Sure, we had some challenging discussions about rules of professional conduct and about malpractice liability insurance, but it was a productive and supportive discussion.

I am grateful for the lawyers who are willing to give this idea consideration. People who don’t want to hire lawyers because they want less expense, less fear of the other person’s lawyer, and not to be mean by hiring a lawyer are far better off with One Lawyer than they are with no lawyers. A primary reason that Advantage Denton was created was so that we can find the right lawyer to provide you with One Lawyer services. Let us know if we can find the right lawyer for you.

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