I will admit, there are times when I get too personally attached to the cases of my clients. I get too argumentative. My perspective looses focus, and I don't maintain sufficient professional separation. It is only natural. We lawyers are a competitive lot, and we enjoy a good fight. Sometimes though things go too far.
Marriage of Davenport is a family law opinion published this week. It pertains to the Sonoma County divorce of Jill and Ken Davenport, multi-millionaires from Santa Rosa. But the opinion is not about them. It is about Jill's lawyer, and provides a check list of what is bad lawyer behavior is in a family law case. How about 19 volumes of court files! A 35 page register of actions. A sanctions request that resulted in a 5 day hearing, $100,000 in sanctions, a $304,387 31 attorney's fees award, a 31 page statement of decision from the trial judge, and a 36 page opinion from the Court of Appeals.
This opinion is great for helping to remind all family law lawyers that there is a difference between zealous advocacy and excessive zeal. It is also a reminder that the Courts do pay attention to collegiality. Reading this opinion knocked a bit of the crust off of me, and helped to remind me that you can be polite and effective. It also reminded me that there can be harsh consequences if you are not collegial.
Please click here to read the original opinion.
Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.