After 30 years of serving as a Toronto divorce lawyer, I have witnessed hundreds of spouses choose their lawyers while in an emotionally charged state.
At the moment when spouses break up (right when they hire a lawyer), they are usually feeling angry, scared, and insecure.
Often, they are looking for a lawyer who will be what they are not at that moment—tough, forceful, and focused on winning.
They may even be searching for ‘the aggressive lawyer’.
Most of these people end up very disappointed in their choice.
Because after a few months, they end up with:
1. A matching ‘aggressive lawyer’ for their spouse
2. Two lawyers exchanging long-winded demand letters that make them feel good in the moment (but later disappointed once billed).
3. An even angrier ex-spouse who is now even more committed to winning (and that means the other spouse losing).
4. No divorce settlement.
5. No settlement in sight.
6. High-conflict divorce litigation, including pleadings and many very expensive court documents, conferences, motions, examinations, a financial disclosure roller-coaster, experts, and a divorce trial.
7. Very, very long delays.
8. HUGE LEGAL FEES (far beyond what could ever have been anticipated)
Many such spouses end up changing lawyers or representing themselves.
After watching this happen for 30 years, it is disheartening.
As a professional with a strong moral commitment to families and children, I am appalled that this occurs in my very own community.
By now, you can appreciate why I have ‘changed lanes’ and have declined being the ‘aggressive lawyer’ when asked.
With my expertise and experience in family law, I now help families transition from family breakdown to family re-formulation without having to go through those negative outcomes.
As an aside, I understand the initial decision that such spouses make. They are struggling with many emotions and just need a professional to listen to them, understand them and ‘fight the fight’ that they cannot do on their own.
But such spouses are mislead and such lawyers are sadly hurting their clients, their children and their pocket books.
Such lawyers are disregarding their ethical obligations as set out in Ontario’s Rules of Professional Conduct that state:
“A lawyer shall advise and encourage the client to compromise or settle a dispute whenever it is possible to do so on a reasonable basis and shall discourage the client from commencing or continuing useless legal proceedings.”
They are also disregarding their statutory obligation as set out in Canada’s Divorce Act that states:
“It is also the duty of every legal adviser who undertakes to act on a person’s behalf in any proceeding under this Act (a) to encourage the person to attempt to resolve the matters that may be the subject of an order under this Act through a family dispute resolution process, unless the circumstances of the case are of such a nature that it would clearly not be appropriate to do so…”
Some could say that such lawyers are exploiting spouses who – in their weak moment – are emotionally charged, fearful and overwhelmed (watch https://m.imdb.com/title/tt2636456/)
But the truth is that such clients exist, and such lawyers are there to accept their money.
The end result is often unsatisfactory to one of them (the client) and very lucrative to the other (the lawyer).
Most of the time, the client does not even know that this has happened until it’s too late.
“Fish don’t know they’re in water”
Steve Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., LL.M. is the founder and principal lawyer of Benmor Family Law Group, a boutique matrimonial law firm in downtown Toronto. He is a Certified Specialist in Family Law and was admitted as a Fellow to the prestigious International Academy of Family Lawyers. Steve is regularly retained as a Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Parenting Coordinator. As a Divorce Mediator, Steve uses his 30 years of in-depth knowledge of family law, court-room experience and expert problem-solving skills in Divorce Mediation to help spouses reach fair, fast and cooperative divorce settlements without the financial losses, emotional costs and lengthy delays from divorce court.Share this article on: