“Like Walking Through Mud”

As a financial adviser with a focus on helping people through their divorce, I talk with a lot of people going through divorce that we don’t end up working with.

Sometimes the timing isn’t right (it’s time for them to speak with a lawyer instead, for instance), or they’re asking for help on what to do next, or maybe it’s just not a good fit.

Often it’s a short ‘sanity check’ so they can make sure they’re doing things in the right order, or how they can find themselves a good family lawyer.

Either way, I’m more than happy to have the conversation. Going through a divorce is brutally difficult already – if there’s anyway we can help them get started off on the right foot, then that’s why we’re here.

After all, we’re here to help people navigate through it and that doesn’t mean we have to be driving – but it can be hard to hear about some of the more preventable issues.

It’s Already Hard Enough

By which I mean, the issues about the how the process is being handled, not only how it’s being approached by their ex.

As an example, one week I have 4 different conversations. And of the 4 conversations I had with people, 3 expressed very negative concerns about the process.

Not the divorce itself, or their ex, but the process – and their lawyers.

Some quotes might help illustrate the depth of their frustration, and feeling of it all being out of control:

“You never know what’s going on, it’s like walking through mud.”

“I’m not sure my lawyer even knows the details of my case.”

“It’s so expensive and god knows where the money is going.”

“The mediator was useless, but at least we’ve ticked that box.”


The thing is, the family lawyers I know work their butts off for their clients, in a very stressful job that’s emotionally demanding.

They guide their clients through a tremendously difficult process, while supporting them in making the best possible decisions during such a tough time.

And it can cost them a large part of themselves. The good ones, the ones that embrace their role with humanity and empathy, invest part of themselves in the work – often with very little appreciation, or notice from understandably overwhelmed clients.

To drive the point home – I’d never heard of ‘vicarious trauma’ until I started working with family lawyers. It didn’t take much reading to discover just how widespread this issue is amongst family lawyers.

So, my gut reaction when I hear about these horrible experiences people are having is to think ‘well, not the good ones.’

Communication is (Always) Key

Which makes me think that rather than assuming the lawyers in these instances are the boneheaded greed monsters they sound like, maybe the issues are instead about how they were communicating with their clients.

(Or it’s also possible these lawyers were just bad at their job – every occupation follows the standard distribution of competence/arrogance, and is subject to the same Dunning-Kruger ceiling as the rest of us!).

Had these lawyers been more proactive with their communication, perhaps these disagreements or differences could have been avoided. Which would benefit them from a practice perspective.

But also imagine what it would mean for their clients to receive a weekly update? An email, or a phone call, to say “here’s where we are at the moment, here’s what we’re waiting for, here’s where we’re heading’.”

I’ve found these kinds of calls and emails – which I’ve been awfully inconsistent with myself – can make the world of difference. Because while we’re sitting at our desk, buried in work, our clients are sitting at home wondering just what on earth is going on.

Which is why I think that regardless of what we actually do, it’s very, very difficult to over-communicate.

Because these chats were good reminders that communication is a vitally important part of client service.

On par with the actual work itself, even.

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