Why brawling London divorce lawyers should stop dishing the dirt
By Peter Jones, Partner
I’m still reeling from an article which sees top London divorce lawyers acting like their worst behaved clients who engage in mud-slinging, spare no punches divorce battles.
Centred on Spears’ three-yearly list of London’s top divorce lawyers, the bellicose boxers hurled insults with no holds barred – describing their peers as a “thug in lawyer’s clothing”, “a monster with a personality disorder” and “the go-to man for trench-fighting litigation”.
To add insult to injury the list comprises high profile names that have represented royalty and celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney.
As a mediator, and one of the UK’s first arbitrators who advocates solutions which avoid traumatic court battles in favour of more non-confrontational approaches, I don’t believe that aggressive stances are appropriate – or productive.
In my world being an “aggressive litigator”, “a terrier” or “a nutter” doesn’t get you anywhere. I see clients who want an experienced professional who will guide them the most challenging of times; help them sort out the financial aspects of a divorce and issues relating to their children. Most people I see appreciate Jones Myers’ sensitive and civilised approach – helping them to stay away from lengthy, and potentially costly, court proceedings.
Of course I understand that there are situations where litigation in court is the inevitable outcome. Possibly because of a genuine failure to agree or perhaps less than frank financial disclose by one or other of the parties. Sometimes it’s just a refusal to discuss and negotiate. At Jones Myers we are equally experienced in the court process and tactics; where we are different is when we refuse to allow personalities to cloud judgement and to turn the event into an emotional and financially expensive bear garden.
The Spears’ list of London names supposedly represents the cream of divorce lawyers. More than 20 years ago the best family and divorce lawyers were in London, but that has changed and there is now a considerable ‘gang’ of us here in the North. We can, and do, work on high profile divorces yet are just as accessible and affordable to middle England. I could easily name 25 outstanding family and divorce lawyers among my colleagues across the North of England. You only have to look at Chambers, the law industry bible, to see the breadth of expertise and quality from the Scottish Borders to the Midlands.
I often tell clients “the more you fight, the more it will cost you”, and with London lawyers charging eye-watering hourly rates (£500 is not un-typical) the price of divorce could be very high indeed.