Advantage Denton

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.

July 19, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Tags: , , , , , — Melissa Denton @ 9:10 am

Most disgracefully, I have failed to update this blog for almost two months. This is insufferable, intolerable, terrible, unforgivable and altogether inconceivable. How could any person commit an act so heinous, so vile, so beyond contempt? Well, it wasn’t easy.

The reason I have used such strong language is so that I can illustrate a point about self abnegation. This phenomenon of negating the self is something I see far too often. People involved in controversy find it hard to keep a balanced perspective. Much of their energy is spent on blaming themselves or, even less productively, on blaming others for the current set of circumstances.

While it is fun and funny to me to come up with a lot of words that I don’t mean about my blogging lapse, it is not funny to me when clients or other lawyers play the blame game and wound with words. Attorneys have a special duty to bring perspective to problems. We need to help clients move away from pain inducing practices. In my humble opinion, the lawyer who makes the client feel worse about him or her self is failing in the primary goal of litigation: coming out the other side with as much positive and as little damage as is possible.

Why did I fail to write in my blog for so long? Part of my reason is exotic — I was in China, Malaysia and Singapore for some weeks. I also bought and moved into new offices and found myself using my new iPad instead of the laptop I was used to blogging on. Now, the iPad has a blogging application and my excuses are over. I will write about China soon, but in the meantime I am going to continue to contemplate mean language and how to decrease the demeaning types of activities I see going on around me.

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