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The Court Speaks: Top Ten List from Generations. #10.

In Allegheny County, PA, custody cases almost always go through the "Generations" process. This starts with an educational seminar that the parties must attend, followed by mandatory mediation. If mediation does not result in an agreement, then the case generally moves to a "conciliation".

A conciliation is a meeting between the attorneys and a Generations domestic relations officer (with the parties present, but waiting outside). The Generations DRO attempts to guide the parties towards settlement. If settlement is not forthcoming, then the Generations DRO assembles information for the next stage in litigation (psychological evaluations, pre-trial meetings with the judge etc.).

Here is item #10 from the Generations top 10 list of tips (i.e. requests) for attorneys at conciliations.

10. Please be respectful and courteous in your interactions with opposing counsel and clients.

Sounds obvious and most family law attorneys practice in a professional and constructive manner. But too many attorneys are rude, obnoxious or unprofessional in their interactions with opposing counsel and clients. You want an attorney who is a strong advocate and takes a strong personal interest in advancing the client's goals. Somebody who will never back down or quit. But a strong advocate is quite different from a rude, obnoxious SOB.

Such people have less credibility with the court and with opposing counsels. They also hurt their clients in other ways. They churn up large and unecessary legal fees. We have even seen cases where parties could have reconciled but for an angry, obnoxious counsel that poisoned the air.

Moreover, the vast majority of family law cases are settled. The best start towards settlement is two professional and knowledgable attorneys who advance their clients own interests by working professionally together.

And at trial, the angry act rarely works. The court spends all day long listening to accusatory, angry and emotional people. The judge is NOT going to be impressed by your attorney's vehement indignation and is not going to be intimidated a loud or rude attorney.

Every good attorney gets emotionally caught up in some cases. There are even a few unfortunate cases where passionate anger is necessary. But you want an attorney who always starts with a desire for settlement or other amicable resolution. A good attorney only fights when necessary.