The attorney-client relationship in the RI family court is … strange. You need the exact right kind of lawyer for you. Every attorney is a unique dandelion, but here are a few common types to look out for. Choose which one you hate least.
- Ol’ Hobo Wizard: Every family court has an ancient patriarch lawyer with aged spots old enough to carbon date. With a hunchback and nasty penchant to interrupt the judge to rant about the effects of Agent Orange upon one’s genitalia, the Wizard is a frequent flyer in the Family Court world. Every judge, sheriff, and shroom seller knows and loves him. He is there four days a week. No one has ever, ever, seen him with a client or practicing law. He is abrupt with female lawyers who “must have gotten lost on their way to the kitchen.” There are rumors that he has a cot in the restroom stall where he spends his nights playing solitaire and smoking Lucky Strikes. He has been practicing law for 120 years and only owns one suit and two ties. His background is legendary, including complex RI Supreme Court legislation but now-a-days he is so senile he can’t care for a house plant. He was practicing law back before the days of computers (or polio vaccines) and he was probably the mayor of your town at one time. Beware: if you are not finished with your case by 11:30 a.m. sharp he will leave you stranded to make his Rotary meeting on-time. Wherever he roams it smells faintly of cat farts and patchouli. He only accepts payment in the form of collectible coins and takes a full eighty seconds between each word spoken. Pros: He will confuse you for his grandchild, and then for four-minute increments he will advocate like hell for you, his precious Betty, whom he always said would grow up to be a lawyer. Cons: Constantly referring to dead relatives and insists “things were better in the Paleozoic period.” Is convinced any Latino person is a Native American. Hiring Ol’ Wizard lawyer may so intimidate the other party that the case settles almost immediately, but if a court date is more than two days away he will forget you and your case. He is moderately priced to account for the pre-inflation rates of the Dust Bowl. May begin a trial then move to FL three days in. Has died twice.
- Stage Three Jabroni: Alpha male who couldn’t prep for your case because of a “hair gel incident” during a Chuck Norris marathon and has an office full of samurai swords. Charges retainers three times higher than the rest of the market and you will never know what his hourly rate is. If he told you that, he would have to kill you. The jabroni is common in R.I. and thinks he is smart enough to talk himself out of anything. He is unable to actively listen due to his incessantly checking the Dow Jones (though he doesn’t have any investments). He is always talking and never quite saying anything. The jabroni works out of his unfurnished Johnston, RI apartment and named his pet komodo dragon after some Latin legalese. Every female judge who rules against him is “a total les”. Pros: Looks like a malnourished Ben Affleck, will be happy to give you a drive to the courthouse in his sick Honda Civic, will always answer your email in a timely fashion due to a crippling insomnia but his responses are mostly emojis. Any woman who won’t date him is a gold-digger despite his $300,000 in debt. Owns a time share in Delaware and hasn’t eaten a home-cooked meal since 2012. Will insist on taking your case to trial no matter how reasonable the other side is and will wet his pants during his opening statement. Will absolutely make a pass at you and try to give you his nana’s ring at some point – it was her dying wish that he become a lawyer, he will tell you tearfully.
- The engineer who changed careers: This attorney is tri-lingual, big-toothed, and eats a cobb salad throughout your initial consult. She never doesn’t have quinoa stuck in her teeth. She often says “irregardless”. She works on your case half-heartedly while listening to Fleetwood Mac and will charge you however much she owes to QVC at any given time. She will forget what you look like on your court date and then blame hot flashes but she is passionate about your case and about you and will defend you no matter what you do. She always has a restaurant recommendation ready for you. She attends her local church every weekend and is the only parishioner who responds out loud. She is deeply spiritual and loves Eckhart Tolle. She is always early to court and will tell you about the days she lived in a hippie van with the judge. Is excellent at predicting how your case will turn out even six or seven court appearances way. Always complains about her paralegal but is very generous to her at Christmas bonus time. Has a “Live Laugh, Love” tattoo. Did not want to be a Family Court lawyer until having a moment of sudden satori at a Pilates class at 46 years of age.
Hiring each one of these types of lawyers will mean that your case will have a very different trajectory. Be sure to “shop around” and visit with a number of lawyers – not to find the cheapest one per say – but to find one that you feel like you click with. You don’t want to think about it now, but chances are you are going to spend more time hanging out with and speaking to / screaming at / choking your family lawyer of choice. So choose wisely.