The Myth of the Shark


I am always amused by divorce lawyer websites. Count the number of times they use the word “aggressive.” (Disclaimer: The word does appear in my website, my webmaster insisted). The typical divorce lawyer website tries to convey how tough-as-nails they are, and how they routinely put the adverse party though the meat grinder, only stopping when the other side breaks down financially and emotionally. It is the myth of the “shark” divorce lawyer.

The shark is a stereotype that has been perpetuated by the media. Think “War of the Roses” and Arnie Becker on “LA Law.” The shark takes great pleasure in eviserating the other side, and there is no depth to which he or she will not stoop. The shark fills the client’s emotional need to strike back and punish the soon-to-be ex-spouse.

But those of us who regularly practice in the trenches of divorce law know that the shark is a horrible mistake. The shark views money as irrelevant. He (or she) will do whatever her wants to do in the litigation (and bill you for it).

You don’t want a shark. Get a good therapist first. Then get a divorce lawyer who doesn’t create conflict, but instead diffuses it. One who resolves issues rather that creates them. One who knows when to litigate, and more importantly, when not to. Because after the case is over, you will still be parents to your children. And the legacy of hate and anger that the shark creates will affect you and your children for years to come.

Please do not misunderstand me. A lawyer must stand firm in the face of an unreasonable position taken by the other side. But that is not the same thing as being unreasonable just because he wants to be seen as a shark.