I have a clear vision of what I do well. I help people to take control and stay in control of their divorce, so they can spend as little time and money as possible and suffer as little pain as possible. Because my vision is crisp, I also realize clearly what I don’t do well.
Let’s be honest. I’m in business to make money, so I’m hungry for the kind of clients for whom I can add value and grateful when they decide to work with me. However, you shouldn’t use Alabama Family Law Center:
- If you’re working to save your marriage
- If you and your spouse are at war
- If you dislike email
- If you need a payment plan or a free introductory consultation
- If you go for the “marble/mahogany” look
I don’t work to save marriages. If you and your spouse are working to save your marriage, I applaud that and affirm that, but you shouldn’t use me to do it. In a very real sense, a decision to work with Alabama Family Law Center is a decision to move toward divorce. This doesn’t mean you and your spouse couldn’t change your mind later on. It does mean, though, that I won’t be working to save your marriage. If you want me to, you’ll be frustrated, and so will I.
My work is focused on helping people when they have some degree of cooperation with their spouse. If you and your spouse aren’t talking with each other, you’ve lost control of your divorce, and all you need is a good gladiator to go forth and do bloody battle on your behalf. You need somebody who knows the judges and the clerks, who knows all the local procedures and customs. I don’t do that. I spend most of my time talking with clients and preparing documents for them, not in the courthouse. I’m no gladiator; if you try to turn me into one, you’ll be frustrated, and so will I.
I’ve structured Alabama Family Law Center with one staff person — me. I don’t need any other staff, because I’ve designed systems that allow me to produce all the paperwork my clients need in real time during sessions. This allows me to deliver quality service and keep my overhead low. It also gives both of us confidence that your private business will stay private.
I encourage clients to use email to communicate with me. It’s faster and cheaper, it results in more accuracy for both of us, and it helps me keep my prices low. If you want to call on the telephone and expect a live response when you do, you’ll be frustrated, and so will I.
Sometimes people who don’t understand how my practice is different from that of other divorce lawyers ask me for a payment plan or for an introductory consultation. I don’t offer either one. Here’s why.
There certainly are some lawyers who offer a free introductory consultation for divorce. They do so on the assumption that if they take the case, they will receive a hefty retainer. On average, they figure, they will take enough cases – that is, take enough hefty retainers – to make the time worthwhile. I don’t ever ask for a retainer. I just don’t believe in them. I’m totally comfortable spending 20 minutes with a person if that’s all the time they need from me, and I have no interest in trying to persuade them to pay me more. As a result, I spend far less time with each client than a typical divorce lawyer, on average a little more than one hour per client. If I offered a free consultation for each client, I would be giving away a third of my income. That would get me in trouble with my wife. If I have to choose between getting in trouble with my wife and disappointing you, I’ll choose you every time.
Payment plans are an administrative burden. If I offered payment plans, I would have to add staff or increase my hourly rate, or both, which would increase the cost of using me for the rest of my clients. I don’t want to do that. Instead, accept Visa and MasterCard for payment.
If you’re willing to pay as, if and when you need my services, we’ll be able to work well together. If you’re not, you’ll be frustrated, and so will I.
There’s a simple explanation why lawyers spend thousands of dollars for furniture and fixtures that look almost grotesquely clunky: many clients like it. Those dark wood chairs, oversized chandeliers, and brass lamps make us feel that the lawyer is secure — has “made it.” Lawyers also do it because other lawyers do it, and lawyers are consummate conformists.
I can’t stand that stuff. I had my fill of it when I was a corporate lawyer, and I hope I never have to work in that kind of world again. In addition to being a divorce lawyer, I’ve recently taken up subsistence farming, so I don’t maintain an office where clients come to see me. The closest thing I have to an office is a chair where I sit with my laptop computer and talk to people. If it’s winter, I’m probably by the wood stove; if it’s summer, I’m probably in the open area of my pole barn.
If you’re looking for casual functionality, we’ll get along fine. If you use me and expect to come to an office that looks like the one in Boston Legal, you’ll be frustrated, and so will I.
Lee Borden, Lawyer and Divorce Mediator. Alabama Family Law Center is a private law firm. It is neither a public legal aid agency nor a section or subcommittee of the Alabama State Bar. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.