Few professions are as ridiculed and vilified as the legal profession. Sometimes justifiably, but more often not. The truth is that despite the caustic vitriol so frequently heaved at lawyers, their role is critical for society. If you do not believe me, just attend a court hearing where there is no legal counsel.
In criminal proceedings, many unrepresented parties accept excessively harsh pleas due to their ignorance of the law or procedure. Likewise, family court hearings have all too frequently moved at glacial speed largely because so many of the parties have elected not to retain legal counsel, often for financial reasons. However, in the end, the cost of lost time or an improvident Court Order can greatly outweigh the investment of legal advice.
While most people falsely presume that it is the sole function of lawyers to extract the contents of one’s wallet, the truth is the exact opposite. A good lawyer can, and should, save a person money. For instance, in family law, a lawyer has the legal and ethical obligation to first canvass the viability of saving the client’s marriage. Obviously if this goal is achieved, the client’s emotional and financial costs will have been minimized.
If that is not possible, a client should then be provided with legal advice pertaining to:
- The law ~ Marriage, cohabitation, divorce, separation, custody (sole, shared, joint), access, spousal support, child support, s.7 expenses, property division and any other related matrimonial law issues; and,
- Procedure ~ Agreements, mediation, arbitration, ADR, and litigation.
Once this is achieved, the client will then be able to determine what is truly desired and how to best achieve it. What is not relevant or what is excessively costly should not be needlessly pursued. In the end, a lawyer’s function is to provide the client with viable alternatives and to assist the party in achieving those goals in as prudent a manner. A good lawyer is more than worth his or her weight in gold.