When you decide that you must pursue a divorce, the best first step is to hire an attorney to represent you. Selecting an attorney is harder than most people think, though, because you want to work with a lawyer that treats you and your case effectively and respectfully. There has to be a great deal of trust between you, and a comfort level in your day-to-day working relationship, as you will be working closely with your lawyer for many months and sharing very personal information.
This may be why women make up a higher percentage of attorneys in family law practices than in other areas of the law. Given that most divorces still involve a man and a woman, the desire for many women to work with a lawyer of the same gender creates a natural demand for women attorneys in this practice area.
Family law deals with marriage, civil unions, adoption, child custody and guardianship, and related matters. Women may feel more comfortable working with a female lawyer on these issues, for a number of reasons that we have heard clients and friends cite.
Four Key Reasons Women Choose Women as Their Divorce Attorneys
- They feel ready to share more intimate details about their relationship with someone of their own gender. Women, it is said, are natural listeners and will take the time to hear what their clients have to say. An attorney who listens, and patiently waits for the client to finish thoughts, is apt to be more responsive and find an important piece of information that could help that client’s case.
- In addition a good listener also makes clients feel better about their situation. Part of any adviser’s role is to help clients navigate the stress and fear they may be experiencing, especially around the contentious aspects of a divorce case and having to deal with child custody and support issues. Having a knowledgeable yet sympathetic advisor helps.
- Women may discover more areas of agreement . Only about 5 percent of divorces go to trial. Most cases are settled via negotiations. You need a strong advocate for your interests, but you also need a person to who can work well with your spouse’s attorney and find areas of agreement.
- Women offer a female perspective. If a marriage is failing because the two people involved did not communicate well, a woman working with a female divorce lawyer could offer perspectives that would increase the chance of finding common ground, improving the likelihood of getting a settlement upon which both parties can agree. (This actually might be important for male clients, too.)
We do not recommend that a person seeking divorce counsel make gender the primary consideration when choosing a lawyer. But we understand the motivations that would cause a person to make that a criterion, and the option is available for those people who find working with a member of their own gender beneficial.