Myth #2: You Need an Aggressive Lawyer
When you begin your divorce friends and relatives often encourage you to find the most aggressive lawyer in town. It is some of the worst advice you will receive. Advice to find the aggressive lawyer is based on several erroneous assumptions. First, there is the assumption that the aggressive lawyer will be better able to win in court. The problem here is that only one percent of divorces go to trial where your aggressive lawyer can shine. So unless you have six figures for legal fees and are a little nuts you are not going to trial. You are going to negotiate a settlement sooner or later and in negotiation aggression is a handicap not an asset. What the aggressive style produces is a settlement later rather than sooner. The aggressive lawyer will posture that the case is to be tried. She will engage in vigorous discovery and file many motions in court in an attempt to intimidate. But any competent lawyer on the other side will know how to counter the would-be-threats. The only practical result is ballooning legal fees that are completely unnecessary.
If a divorce is to be resolved by negotiation there is much less need for discovery. The atmosphere that promotes good negotiation is injured by a lot of contact with the court and a lot of unnecessary discovery. If you have an assertive rather than aggressive lawyer you will likely reach negotiation much sooner. Aggressive lawyers are litigation oriented and are unlikely to enter negotiation until a trial is around the corner. That can mean years of unnecessary waiting and limbo for the entire family. Your choice of the most aggressive lawyer in town gets you much higher legal fees and a drawn out divorce. Most divorces should be settled within a few months. But your aggressive lawyer will typically spend years.
A big question here is whether having spent on big legal fees and having waited for years rather than months will your lawyer get you a better result than you would have had with a more amiable lawyer. The answer is that there is absolutely no evidence that these lawyers get better results than any of the other practitioners in town. Even if the case goes to trial the histrionic antics of the aggressive lawyer will have little impact on the judge who decides the case. Remember, divorce cases are tried before a judge not a jury. The judge is more likely to follow local norms for support and property division than heed the extreme demands of the noisy lawyer. If anything, the judge may just be annoyed by flamboyant performances.
In the end your lawyer will have to negotiate and aggressive styles do not do particularly well in negotiation. Other lawyers are alienated by aggressive tactics and may just dig in their heels until your lawyer moderates his position. The result of your unfortunate choice of a lawyer is greater expense both financially and emotionally, long delay, unnecessary bitterness between you and your ex and nothing gained at all. Do not hire that lawyer.