Some Attorneys claim they do collaborative divorce, when in reality they only do litigation.
Some bait and switch attorneys advertise collaborative divorce, but when a client comes in their office the lawyer says a collaborative divorce isn’t right for her and recommends she litigate. The “bait” is an ad or website offering collaborative divorce, which is attractive to many clients because it’s less expensive, private, flexible, allows the couple to preserve their co-parenting relationship and protect their children from the stress of litigation. The “switch” is to tell clients their case isn’t right for collaborative divorce and sign them up for litigation, which is more expensive, stressful, destructive of family relationships and harmful to children.
How Legal Bait and Switch Works.
Bait and switch litigation attorneys never intend to offer a collaborative divorce to their clients; they simply advertise the availability of a collaborative divorce to get clients into their office so they can sign them up for litigation. In a few cases, there may be legitimate reasons an attorney might recommend litigation. For example, if he sees the client’s personality would make it nearly impossible for them to compromise or voluntarily disclose financial information. Or, the attorney may discover that the prospective client has unrealistic expectations that the collaborative process will magically save their marriage.
If there are legitimate reasons for an attorney to recommend a litigated divorce, he should share them with the client immediately rather than pressure the client to sign on the dotted line and litigate the divorce. However, that’s not what’s happening in these cases–the bait and switch attorney never intends to offer a collaborative divorce no matter the personality of the client.
Bait and Switch Attorneys Aren’t Trained in Collaborative Divorce.
Often, litigation attorneys who advertise that they do collaborative divorces aren’t trained in the collaborative process, they have no commitment to resolve family disputes outside the court house and they don’t believe in the collaborative process. Instead, they simply advertise collaborative divorce because more and more people are learning about this new way to divorce with dignity and litigation attorneys want to attract these bright affluent clients into their practice and switch them to litigation.
How to Avoid Legal Bait and Switch.
Do your homework. Read the attorney’s website and see how they present themselves to the public. Do they prominently display collaborative divorce on their site? Do they belong to a local professional collaborative practice group and Collaborative Divorce Texas? These professional groups educate attorneys about collaborative divorce. How much of the attorney’s practice is devoted to collaborative divorce? Some attorneys do only collaborative divorces, so if you want to be certain you have an attorney who won’t bait and switch you, engage one who does no litigated divorces. If an attorney does both collaborative and litigated divorces, ask him what percentage of divorces are collaborative. If they only do a small number of collaborative divorces, it’s a good bet they will bait and switch you.
Attorneys who do only collaborative divorces may practice other types of law, such as real estate or estate planning. If an attorney does no litigated divorces or at least half their divorce practice is collaborative, you can be fairly certain they won’t bait and switch you. Finally, when you interview the attorney, pay attention to how much they know about collaborative divorce and how it works. If they don’t send time clearly describing the benefits and risks of a collaborative divorce and the benefits and risks of a litigated divorce they are not being honest with you. All attorneys have an ethical obligation to inform you of your divorce options in Texas including collaborative divorce and litigation.
If the bait and switch attorney sends little or no time discussing collaborative divorce and almost immediately tells you that a collaborative divorce is not for you, be suspicious. He is enticing you to his office with the offer of a collaborative divorce, but he is selling you litigation because he will make more money and he doesn’t know how to do a collaborative divorce.