In an ideal world gender should play little part in professional success. However, we don’t live in an ideal world and in some areas gender can have an impact. One specific area where this can be seen is in family law. In family law female lawyers have shown themselves to be very successful and, therefore, it could be advantageous, like playing online slots, to have one working on your behalf if you are going through a divorce.
According to the American Bar Association, women now make up 35 percent of all attorneys. This is up from 28 percent in the year 2000 and it is continuing to increase. There is no question that women have made huge advances in the profession since the time that Arabella Mansfield took the bar in the United States back in 1869. However, there are still less women attorneys. In Fortune 500 companies women make up a quarter of counsel attorneys and their representation in judgeships is increasing all the time all around the country.
In recent years, many female attorneys are distinguishing themselves in family law. They are choosing to focus and concentrate on family law which includes all aspects of marriage from mediation, separation, issues concerning child custody and divorce.
To hire a female or male lawyer?
Many people who have retained a female lawyer in cases of family law state that their lawyer’s gender was advantageous. They cited a number of reasons why:
- Women are good listeners. Women attorneys generally take the time to get to know who their clients are and to try to understand them. Male attorneys are more likely to just carry out the regular duties of filling out the paperwork without really knowing what makes their clients tick. By virtue of this quality, female attorneys are more likely to learn some important information which will help them with their client’s case.
- The act of listening is also very helpful in that it will often make the client feel less stressed. Divorce and all the scary issues associated with it, child custody and financial loss, causes tremendous amounts of stress. Knowing that you have someone in charge who is prepared to listen to you can alleviate much of that stress.
- Women are socially skilled. The fact is that only 5% of divorce cases actually get to court. The majority of divorces are settled out of court by negotiation between both party’s lawyers. Women have more of a tendency to be social and amiable and manage to get along with other attorneys. This can be really important in reaching a fair and good settlement with their colleagues.
- Women have a better understanding of women. This can be an important issue, especially for male clients. In many divorces, communication between the spouses is a real problem and often the cause of the divorce. A female family lawyer can often be helpful in explaining to their male clients how their spouses are thinking and help them to understand the best way to arrive at a mutually agreeable outcome. A female attorney can also be useful in determining if, and when, a spouse is being dishonest or manipulative and can advise her male client when it is necessary to stand firm.
- Women have personal experience. Many female lawyers have been through divorce themselves or are the child of divorced parents. They understand what the worries are about financial security and change and the fears concerning child custody and support. This personal experience gives them the empathy needed to work hard for their clients and make sure that they receive a good settlement at the negotiating table or if the case goes to trial.
- Women introduce a softer touch. If a husband has retained a male lawyer and the case does go to trial it can often seem like all the men are against the woman. This is particular true if there are some difficult issues involved like drug abuse or unfaithfulness. Women attorneys can present the same issues but it may be perceived in a more favorable light by the judge and not seen primarily as a male attack. This can be helpful for the husband in ensuring that his case gets a fair hearing.
How to select an Attorney
It is important to find the right female attorney, not anyone will do. They need to be well qualified in family law and they need to be someone you can work with. The chemistry should be right as good communication is essential and will facilitate good results. If you need to hire a family law attorney, there are a number of useful things to do:
- Word of mouth. Speaking with friends who have recently gone through divorce can be useful. What do they say about their experience? Do they have positive things to say and did they feel that the attorney was a good advocate for them?
- Make sure you have all the relevant paperwork with you when you visit an attorney. Marriage certificates, tax and bank statements, etc. This will enable her to make a proper evaluation of what is necessary and you will be able to see her level of organization and expertise.
- Clarify what it is you are looking for. Is your divorce likely to be straightforward and somewhat amicable or is it likely to end up in court? You need to decide whether you are looking for a tough advocate or someone whose strengths lie in being a calm negotiator.
- Ask her about previous cases and experience. How long has she been working in family law and has she received any special professional honors in this field? Does she work with both men and women or only women? Check out her fees and how payment schedules work.
Find out why she chose to work in family law. You will likely learn a lot about your prospective attorney by finding out why she chose this particular field. This will help you decide if this is the attorney you wish to work with.