Help Your Lawyer, Help Your Self

Happy New Year!

In this office, we have been practicing family law for a long time.  I have been in practice for over 25 years.  I know, from my own personal experience with my divorce and from my experience with the hundreds of divorcing clients I have represented over the years, that family members who are involved in litigation are going through some of the toughest times in their lives.

As is often the case, I had this thought in mind recently when I was reading Hope Jahren’s new book, Lab Girl.  The book is an interesting story of a scientist’s life, but, more significantly, it is a deeply moving account of her view of the world she has spent her life studying.  As I read the book, it occurred to me that anyone who is experiencing one of life’s stressful events might find some perspective–and maybe some relief—in reading this book.

I also found what could be interpreted as a little practical advice in the last paragraph of the second chapter, when Ms. Jahren writes, “Time has also changed me . . . Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.  It has also convinced me that carefully writing everything down is the only real defense we have against forgetting something important that once was and is no more.”

We lawyers often advise our clients to keep a written account of the events in their lives as they prepare for and endure the litigation process.   Many of my own clients already have a practice of journal-writing before they ever even think of hiring a family lawyer.  For most of us, writing things down really is the only defense we have against forgetting what is important.  But there is one vital point that every potential litigant needs to keep in mind—it is possible that you could be required to turn over your diaries, journals, ledgers and calendars to the opposing attorney if you become involved in a contested legal action.  For that reason, if you are keeping a written account of events, keep it between yourself and your lawyer.  Communications between a lawyer and her client are confidential and are not usually turned over to the opposing attorney.  But if you show your confidential communications to a third person, you will probably destroy the confidential nature of the communication and you may find yourself in a position where you have to produce your private written accounts to the opposing party.

As always, all of us at Maxine Wallace, P.C., are committed to helping our clients navigate difficult, stressful, complicated family law issues, while maintaining some level of peace of mind.  We will all keep these goals in mind as we move forward into the new year.