Divorce Lawyers face two competing challenges: make money vs help their clients to save money

Divorce lawyers the world over have a bad reputation for being exploitative of their clients’ vulnerable state of life and mind. That is to say that, with few exceptions, people see divorce lawyers as greedy sharks who charge usurious fees and who prolong rather than settle divorce cases in order to hit their clients with exorbitant bills at the end of the process.

This is not an unreasonable charge to level against a significant portion of divorce lawyers. Are we in agreement?  But for me, the question is whether it the lawyers’ responsibility to save their clients money by insisting on settlements when the client wants their pound of flesh, or even to charge at a low hourly rate to suit potential consumers?  Or is the responsiblity of the divorce lawyer – as a business person – really to their business? Which therefore boils down to them maximizing their economic potential which in turn means racking up as many billable hours as possible?

That is not to say that a divorce lawyer should rack up bogus hours. No lawyer can defend a contemporary who, for example, charges a stay at home mom with a household income Under 50K per year 4000 dollars for copies in a divorce action. This shocks the conscience no matter where in the world you live. There is a fine line between understanding and treating your work as a divorce lawyer as a “business” (and trying to make a profit) and completely ripping off a client by charging for bogus expenses; moreover, it clearly is not ethical to advise a client to prolong a case just in order to keep billing. This is clear for everyone.

But the idea is that a law practice is a business; it is not philanthropy. And a divorce law practice is likewise a business – a for profit business.  That is, divorce lawyers are in it to make money; to make a profit and that is their first concern. And so what?

I guess the question is whether this is wrong. Should divorce lawyers change their business strategy to make saving their clients money a top or, I should say, the top priority and making a profit their second priority?

 

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