The other day I was at the Cobb County Superior Court. I was sitting in the gallery awaiting calendar call. I was looking around and I noticed the same old attorneys I see every time I go to court. Granted, I don't go to court a great deal; most of my divorce cases are settled in mediation. As a side note, I have always felt that mediation is the most effective means of resolving divorce disputes because each party gives and gets and it doesn't break the bank. Additionally, the parties finish up their divorce much quicker than those bogged down in litigation.
So why are these attorneys always in court? Do they have more clients than I did? I don't think so, my caseload is similar with other attorneys, about 120 active cases. Do they attract really litigious clients? Perhaps, but most litigious clients slow down a bit after they get their first bill. Is there some advantage to taking a case all the way to trial? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Going to court cost a lot more money than resolving the issue in mediation. Wait, is that it? Are these lawyers always in court so they could charge their clients more money and thus, put more cash in their pockets? I always tell my clients that going to court is usually about a $1,000 day.
After court, I went back to the office and I looked through some files where the opposing counsel was one of the attorneys I saw at court. Guess what? Whenever those attorneys were involved in a case, it lasted much longer, there were more bills than usual and it cost those clients more money than in other cases. Another thing I noticed was, with few exceptions, these cases were not more complicated than others, they just cost more because we went to court...more than once.
What is the lesson here? Law and Order and Suits are television dramas, in a drama everyone goes to court but in the real world, going to court costs money. Second, ask questions of your attorney; "Are there other options besides going to court?" "How much will going to court cost versus what is at stake?" "How often do you go to court on this sort of issue?" "What are the potential consequences of going to court as opposed to not going to court?" Don't assume just because you can go to court that you should go to court.