Why I don’t do divorces

I’m a criminal defense lawyer. I don’t do family law. I’ll be glad to refer someone to a good lawyer who can handle a divorce or custody/child support case, but I don’t do them myself.

When I started in practice everybody told me: “You have to do family law. Or else give up a lot of business when you need it most.” The funny thing was that the same people who told me I should practice family law would quickly admit that all their biggest headaches flow from family law practice.


If I walk by another lawyer’s door and overhear angry words, it’s probably a family law case.

I am sure there must be a study out there proving that 87% of lawyer swearing is caused by family law.

Family law mostly involves unhappiness and trouble of some kind.

Yeah, OK. OK. Adoptions are happy.

The irony is that as a criminal lawyer, my clients have just as much (or more) reason to be unhappy, troubled (and troublesome), but mostly they are not. People accused of a crime tend to retain a remarkable degree of common sense when it comes their case.

Perhaps the prospect of a prison sentence focuses the mind.

They understand that only certain issues are important and that they will not be able to avenge a lifetime of complaints in one case.

When I was a new prosecutor, I expected that defendants–seeing me as their adversary– would really hate me, but most of them seemed to understand that I was just doing my job. I appreciated that. I still do.

But there is just something about divorce/custody cases that turns normally nice, reasonable couples into a couple of lunatics. Mostly, I think it’s the kids.

Like I said, I know some highly-skilled divorce lawyers. A tip of my criminal lawyer hat to them. They perform a particular, necessary service, so I don’t have to.