I never thought I’d say it, but I think I have actually heard it all. I wish I could say that I am surprised by people and how they act and react, but frankly, it isn’t true. And each time I hear a story about the brother who did this or the aunt who did that, I resist the urge to do one thing.
I resist the urge to feign surprise. When a prospective client tells me their story, they portray it as if it’s the most exceptional story ever, as if it must be equally as surprising to me as it is to them. But with what I do, nothing surprises me anymore. The brother who demanded a copy of the Trust at the funeral because he wanted to know how much he was going to get now that mom was dead. The sister who didn’t call the coroner when she found her father dead on the floor of his house, but instead searched through the house for the family heirlooms so that she could have them before her siblings found out. The brother who buried his mother without notifying his other siblings as to the location or date of the funeral.
Honestly, it seems as if I have heard every story out there. I would like to think that when I tell a prospective client that it doesn’t surprise me that it engenders confidence in me. If I am not surprised by the story then I must know how to address the issues, right? Wouldn’t you prefer to have an attorney who has seen it all and done it all then the attorney who is equally as flabbergasted as the client? It’s funny- when you are a young attorney the only thing you can’t be taught and won’t come fast enough is experience.
I hate to say it but people can be so mean to each other. I hate to say it because I am a firm believer in the tenet that people are good. That people are decent. That people, if given the opportunity, will do the right thing the majority of the time. But the stories I hear certainly make me have second thoughts about all of that. What does actually surprise me is that people are sometimes more willing to act despicable towards a family member then they would towards a complete stranger. They say that blood is thicker than water, but money and control are sometimes even stronger.
I am often astounded by the attorneys who practice in the area of divorce law and wonder how they go home at the end of the day and keep a strong marriage. Yet it is so very clear to me how they do it. They take all of the negativity that they see every day and they turn it into positives by focusing their energies towards avoiding the horror they see others go through.
I have taken that to heart and try to keep it in mind with my own family. It just simply makes sense to me. When all is said and done, don’t we all want someone we can go to, to share happy occasions with, commiserate with, cry on the shoulder of and celebrate with? I get the concept that money and power corrupt, and for some people they have been waiting years, even decades, to finally have that upper-hand, to rectify the wrong that was committed on them so many years ago. But seriously, aren’t there more important things that that?
I have heard it all. Conceptually I understand that you cannot choose your family but you can choose your friends. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it… or accept it.
But having heard it all, I think it makes me better at what I do, that’s for sure.