In my last post, I wrote about whether a person may want to hire a large firm or a boutique family law firm. In this post, the issue is about gender.
I am often asked whether it matters if a person hires a male or female divorce lawyer. The reasons given for this concern are as myriad as you can imagine. One common theme that arises is whether the judge will or will not draw some inference (good or bad) regarding whether the husband or wife hires a lawyer of a particular gender. For example, I have heard reasoning that goes like: “If I have a female judge, and I am the husband, and I have a male attorney, won’t the judge think “x” or “y?” Now, some of you reading this may think this is silly. I must state that personally and professionally I do not believe that it makes any difference at all to any judge I know who has what gender for a lawyer. But, you have to put yourself in the place of the litigants, who are often stunned, shocked, and confused by the marital turmoil and the fact of divorce and who are trying to make sense out of a period of chaos. Thus the over-analysis.
One other thing that I suspect is often going on is that a potential client really just feels more comfortable with a male or female lawyer, but feel a bit reluctant to admit it. To me, it’s a lot like going to the doctor. It’s a personal choice and you should make that choice based on your own comfort level when it comes to gender. If you just feel more comfortable discussing personal issues with a male or female — that is reason enough for your choice and you owe no apology for it. One word of caution is warranted, though — test the waters before you ultimately decide. Interview or consult with a lawyer or two and then make your choice based on the consult and the lawyer’s overall ability and reputation.