The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Just Another Reason Why I Am Not An Attorney Anymore

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I think I mentioned a good friend of ours is going through a rather nasty divorce. His soon-to-be ex wife is doing everything in her power to break whatever spirit this poor guy has left. She has told lies, ruined his credit, and turned his children against him.

Husband and I have been providing moral and financial support for our friend during this time. We don't mind because our friend is like a brother to us. And if one of us were in a jam, he would be the first to help.

But lately, I am getting frustrated. Our friend is pushing me to give him legal advice because his attorney is doing a lousy job representing him. I have practiced matrimonial law and the mistakes this attorney has made are borderline malpractice.

The divorce is happening in another state where I am not licensed to practice law. If I were to give him advice, I could be charged with unauthorized practice of law in that state and possible disciplinary action in my own state.* I try to give him general information that could be found by doing a simple Google search, but his questions are becoming more detailed, which puts me in a rough position.

On top of that, I have this thing about helping friends or family with legal problems. I just don't do it. Often, friends and family want you to tell them what they want to hear, not what the need to hear. When you put on the professional hat, many often think you are against them. It's just better to not help and save a relationship.

Husband has started listening in on the phone calls to act as a buffer, because this is really increasing my anxiety level. I want to be supportive of our friend, but at the same time, I am not willing to lose something I worked very hard to attain. I sent him an email with a list of attorneys in the state where the divorce is filed, in the hope that he will seek new counsel. But I can't help but cringe when I see an email or his number on the call waiting.

Honestly, I really don't miss being a lawyer.

*Even though I "retired" from practice, my license is still valid. I can handle pro bono cases if the spirit moves me. Trust me, it won't.


Anonymous said...

that's really awkward. ugh.

RageyOne said...

Oh, that is a tough position to be in. Sorry you are having to deal with that.

Ianqui said...

Have you tried the "I'm jeopardizing my license/possibly breaking the law?" thing? Maybe it'll work? (I could see that he'll just try to convince you that he'd never use it against you, though.)

Mad Hatter said...

That's tough. I agree with Ianqui. But if that doesn't work to dissuade him, you might just have to refuse to reply to the emails and calls that seek legal advice....

M in my diary said...

I can see that being uncomfortable. What are you left with as far as options? Perhaps honesty is the best policy. Use the ethics card.

I'm w/Mad Hatter

Anonymous said...

ohh, that is not good. cna you suggest he jjust change attys?

Seeking Solace said...

Thanks everyone.

I have told him at least twice that I am not willing to jeopardize my license for him or anyone else. But he just doesn't seem to get it. In fact, he did elude to what Ianqui stated. I told him that I am not willing to take that risk. What if his soon to be ex find out? She hates my guts. (Long story)

I was so upset tonight.
I haven't been able to concentrate on the piles of papers I have to grade and the lectures I have to prep. All of that, plus the whole FERPA incident has me just mentally exhausted.

He can seek new counsel, in fact, I sent him the names of some that appear to be very good.

Husband is going to call him and put his foot down. Husband has also instructed me not to answer any more emails and let him deal with the phone calls. Husband stain he would rather risk a friendship than to see his wife struggle like this. He remembers what the stress of law practice did to me and he doesn't want it to happen again.

Tomorrow, I am taking a mental health day. I think I need it.

Prisca said...

Sounds like you're doing EXACTYLY what you need to be doing in Lake Effect Central State. I'm so sorry you are in this position. It must be extrememly hard. Take your mental health day and buy some new shoes or something for your vacation!!

Joy said...

I think you are very wise in refusing to give advice. I am glad you have your husband's support.

Have a fun day off! Relax, sleep in, do something nice for you!

M in my diary said...

I think that sounds best. Do what you have to do to let go of the rest.

GML said...

Just keep telling yourself....
10 Days until vacation!!!

No computer, no phones!

Just eating and drinking and sunning!

Alice said...

Oooh, it's a tough position. Does your friend know about this dilemma?