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Does having an overly aggressive divorce lawyer help your case?

When I was a young lawyer, I had the privilege of learning under some of the best lawyers in Singapore. Some of them are household names in the legal world. It was a wonderful learning experience for a young lawyer.

One thing I learnt is to always practise law in a courteous and congenial manner.

Unfortunately, clients often think that the best lawyers are the aggressive and ‘loud’ lawyers. This perception is shaped by TV and movies which often portray good lawyers as lawyers who are loud, threatening and aggressive. In reality, if you have ever watched arguments in the Singapore Court of Appeal, the lawyers are invariably polite. Arguments are never heated or personal.

In a divorce case, the client’s perception that an aggressive lawyer must be a good lawyer is even more acute. There are feelings of hurt, of betrayal and a desire to ‘get even’ in a divorce case, so the client expects the divorce lawyer to be a pit pull.

I am here to tell you that hiring a loud and overly aggressive lawyer, or expecting your lawyer to be one, is going to be counterproductive to your divorce case in Singapore. Here’s why:

1. The best lawyers are the ones who are calm and well prepared.

There is no secret to winning cases - it is about hard work. A lawyer who has put in the hard work preparing your case, and who is quietly but firmly persuasive, will achieve a more positive outcome for you than the lawyer who is loud and aggressive.

2. Having an overly aggressive lawyer may result in a long drawn divorce case

Very often, aggression is counterproductive as it results in a long drawn divorce case. Remember that in a divorce case, there is no such thing as a completely fair settlement. There must be compromise from both parties. From my experience, an overly aggressive lawyer is less likely to settle. They pick fights over every single insignificant issue. Invariably, it is the client who suffers from a long drawn and costly litigation.

3. The Courts are extremely pro-mediation

The Singapore Courts actively encourage mediation. We have moved away from the old adversarial approach towards one based on counselling and mediation. As such, Judges prefer lawyers who are cordial. No one likes to deal with an aggressive lawyer who quibbles over the most mundane and insignificant aspects of their case and who refuses to compromise.

4. An aggressive lawyer does not change the facts of your case

Overly aggressive lawyers who try to ’score’ points by being insulting or threatening in court will chalk up legal fees and reduce the chances of a settlement.

Understand that such behaviour will not change the facts of your case or the law. It will not help your case at all.

Conclusion

As a client, you control the destiny of your case. Encouraging or wanting your lawyer to be angry and aggressive may be detrimental to your case and to your wallet.

By LIM CHONG BOON, Head of Family Law at PKWA LAW PRACTICE LLC

Questions? Need more specific advice? Give us a call at 6397 6100 or have a look at our website, www.sgdivorcelawyer.com.sg. We’re happy to help.

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