Consulting with a lawyer can be a huge step for some people when they are contemplating divorce. Seeing a lawyer makes it far too real. Seeing a need, I developed a program for those who don't want to hire a lawyer. At least not yet. Do you identify with any of the following?
Harriet is unhappy in her marriage but has a lot of fear about what the future would look like for her. Her therapist suggested she get some legal advice.
Larry has been researching on line for months now regarding divorce. He has found forms that are confusing, legal advice that doesn’t seem to apply to his case, he even found a child support calculator but it doesn’t seem to fit his case. Larry does not want to hire a lawyer
Martha and her husband have been working with a divorce mediator but she feels she has not been given enough legal advice and wants to know what would be legitimate requests to make without having to involve another lawyer.
Tom is a whiz and investments and finances but neither his CPA or investment advisor can give him satisfactory answers to tax implications of divorce. His financial advisor told him to get legal advice.
Bob is president of his company and is worried about the effect of a divorce on his business. Before he makes a decision, he needs to know what he can expect and how can he determine how his business will be evaluated.
Sally and her husband have fashioned a settlement agreement but her friends and relatives are warning her that she may be missing something. Sally doesn’t want to involve a lawyer but her friends are insisting she talk to one.
Don really wants to move out of the house for a “trial separation” but fears he will be accused of abandonment and will lose his rights to property or parenting. His coworkers have advised him to talk to a lawyer first.
Mary needs some legal advice but feels hiring a divorce lawyer is just too big a step. Besides all the ones she has talked to seem to be trying to sell her their services. She wants objective advice.
In my ever evolving effort to find ways to help people going through or contemplating divorce I experiment with different programs I can offer. A solution for Harriet, Larry and the others just might be a package I call “Legal Coaching”.
For a flat fee I offer a legal coaching session dedicated to the individuals needs. I can explain the legal process, show a client what the forms look like and give them a timeline. I can run child support calculations, discuss support and parenting issues. I give an unbiased assessment of their situation. The fee is about equivalent to my hourly rate but I don’t turn on a timer. Most sessions run from one to one and a half hours, sometimes longer. We take as long as we need for that session. During the session I might even refer the person to a different lawyer that I think would be more appropriate for their situation.
In an earlier day I would be known for my golden rolodex. Now it’s an electronic database. I have given referrals for parenting specialists, divorce financial planners, real estate agents and mortgage brokers. I have pointed people in the right direction for career advice, personal growth and even professional organizers. My network even includes a collision repair specialist but that’s a different story.
The benefit to legal coaching is that the advice is completely unbiased. I can assess a client’s case honestly without concern whether that person may not hire me if I tell them what they don’t want to hear. The client’s have paid for the time and don’t have to worry that they are wasting my time because they do not plan to hire me. A client can come back for more coaching at anytime – completely on his/her timeline. The coaching fee can also be applied to payment for full representation. Kind of rent before you buy.
A legal coaching session is different than the introductory session a client might want before making a hiring decision. That meeting is more a matter of seeing if our personalities fit and, given the facts of the case, if I am the right lawyer for them and they are the right client for me. Legal coaching is much more in depth.
So far I have had several people take advantage of the legal coaching model and I see it evolving further as a very viable product for some people. I will continue to develop more products and most likely add some hand outs. My clients will be my best teachers as I develop this concept.