Why your family law lawyer should Listen Up

Shelly Jean John July 14, 2016

What type of family law lawyer is best for you?

Often when someone thinks about hiring a Family Law Lawyer, they want to find someone who is loud and aggressive; someone who will pound on the table, stomp their feet and jump up and down to make sure that each and every one of your concerns “heard” by the Judge. But really, being a loudmouth is not the most important feature of a good attorney. An effective attorney is one who listens well. Listening for cues from the Judge about what he or she wants to hear is key when your case is being presented. Even though you might have to wait at the courthouse all day, your Judge will likely only spend 5 to 10 minutes on your case. That is simply not enough time for him or her to hear your entire life story. So, it is vital that your lawyer be able to figure out what the Judge knows or does not know, and hone in on what the Judge still wants or needs to hear. An effective lawyer is also looking for clues about which tone is going to be most effective in your legal argument. Sometimes a Judge can be pushed a little bit further… and a little bit further, toward your desired goal. Other times, it is actually better for your case for your lawyer to simply hold their tongue. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “It’s all in the delivery.” This is true; but in order to know the best delivery, it starts with listening.

.judge staring at person in suit

This emphasis on listening must begin and be evident the moment you walk into the Family Law Lawyer’s office. If your lawyer is not listening to you to determine what your real, deeply felt needs are, then she cannot adequately advocate for your best interests. There are many feelings, thoughts, fears, and dreams which form the basis of your goals. If your lawyer is not listening to assess each of these facets, then he or she is going to miss the mark. This, then, often leads to unsatisfactory rulings and settlement agreements.

Listening also forms a solid foundation for a good co‑parenting relationship. If you are able to listen to determine the other parent’s real concerns and needs, then you are in a better position to respond to those needs using the B.I.F.F. (Brief, Informative, Factual, Firm) method for communicating. By listening, and then acting on what you hear in a respectful manner, you can avoid unnecessary drama and have an opportunity for a peaceful co‑parenting relationship. While it is true that not all co‑parents are going to respond to you, in kind, nevertheless, your willingness to listen and be respectful will, in and of itself, bring you more peace.

About the Shelly Jean John

Shelly Jean John is an attorney with an emphasis in Family Law. She obtained her Juris Doctor (law degree) from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was has been an active member of the State Bar of California since December 1998.

To speak with a lawyer who will listen to you, and who will skillfully represent you in negotiations or court, contact the Law Office of Shelly Jean John at 909-377-4975 and check out the variety of services offered at FamilyLawRevolution.com.