PRACTICING LAW: THE LOST GUIDE
Christopher C. Melcher
Christopher C. Melcher specializes in the complex legal and financial issues involved when a business owner, trust fund beneficiary, celebrity, or professional athlete goes through a divorce or needs a premarital agreement. He is also developing his family law appeals practice. He is a former Chair of The State Bar of California Family Law Section, and is a partner in the firm of Walzer & Melcher LLP in Los Angeles County.
Imagine this. You decide to take a trip to Brazil to see the rainforest. Once there, you hear about a waterfall, which is supposed to be the most beautiful one in the world. You hire a guide and set out. After walking for hours, you find yourself at a crossroads and swear that you’ve passed this point before. You call ahead to the guide to stop. "Haven’t we been this way already? Do you know where you are going?" The guide says in broken English: "We go right last time, this time we try left." He cavalierly starts walking along the left trail. You don’t want to follow him anymore. He clearly doesn’t know the way. You’re angry because you paid him to be your guide and now you are lost. It is getting dark and there is no waterfall in sight.
I wonder if our clients feel the same way about us. They hire us to guide them through the divorce process, but do we really know the way? Sure, the road starts at FL-100 and ends at FL-180, but will that be a straight line in this case? Or will we try a shortcut and get lost? Will we get ambushed by a savage opposing counsel, get shaken down by an unscrupulous party on the other side, or be ordered to turn around by an outraged judge? We can’t possibly know, at the beginning of the case, what the road will look like, how long it will take to get there, or whether that beautiful waterfall even exists.