When I first meet my clients I simply try to listen. It's really just to get a feel for what their struggles are, and to allay their fears about the process. I also seek to give my clients an initial, basic understanding of divorce law in Virginia - and since many people hear stories from their Maryland and Washington co-workers, they should know there are subtle differences that can make a big difference in their case.
But above all, what I really want to extend to my clients - from the first conversation - is to give them a reason for hope, that there'll be some closure, that they'll be able to move on with their lives.
We've come a long way in Virginia -- the rules are clearer. The culture of divorce has changed. There's less likelihood of fighting over stupid things, like who is going to get the green chair in the corner.
The Internet hasn't necessarily made people more informed. They come in with more questions to information they've gleaned. Often what you read on the Internet is worth what about you paid for it.
Times have certainly changed for divorce law. Judges today want from counsel a measure of courtesy, intelligence and honesty - and all without extraneous yelling. In the old days, whoever yelled over the other side the loudest would often win the case. Not anymore.
Both in the courts and at our firm, there is greater emphasis on resolving cases through mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Litigation is expensive - and not necessarily better.
Our practice is really a people practice. What that means is that I love representing people - not someone's anonymous corporation or tax shelter. That's why I can't imagine doing anything else.