To Hug? Or Not to Hug your family law attorney? That is the question.
On the one hand, a family law attorney is a seasoned professional. Someone who went to years of post-graduate school passed the bar exam and endured years of grueling training. This person is most likely driven, competitive, professional, impressive (possibly even intimidating) and confident. When you hire an attorney, you expect them to be competent and assertive.
Some attorneys would be offended at the informality of hugging – or at the very least, the assumption that all women attorneys are huggers. Female attorney, Deanne M. Koll writes in her blog, “Please Don’t Hug Me,” for the Wisconsin Bar Magazine, “Unless we’re truly friends outside of the profession, please, spare us both the embarrassment and simply put out your hand to shake.”
That may be the case for Deanne M. Koll and many other attorneys but Milford, Michigan Family Law Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler believes family law is intimate. Family law is uniquely personal. A family law attorney deals with secrets, parenting woes, insecurities, failures and emotional tension. People report that divorce, custody battles, adoption proceedings, probate fights and criminal accusations are some of the more stressful life experiences. The client can tend to become attached to the attorney guiding them through traumatic times. A family law attorney has probably seen her clients at their best and worst.
Family Law Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler looks out for clients’ emotional well-being as well as their legal rights
“There’s a reason I keep a big box of Kleenex in my conference room,” Kathryn Wayne-Spindler relates. “I’ve had multiple people tell me, “I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry,” only to breakdown in tears moments into the initial consultation.”
All these intense emotions can create a client-attorney bond that is more suited to hugging than hand-shaking.
Quite often, when a client has spilled their worries and secrets in the office, they are left feeling vulnerable. They quite likely told their family law attorney things they’ve never told anyone else. Some are embarrassed. Some are relieved. Many are overcome by regret and insecurity.
“I explain client-attorney privilege, over and over. And I know my clients understand it rationally,” Wayne-Spindler says, “but a reassuring hug convinces them emotionally. It says ‘you can trust me.’”
Getting to Know You
Another factor that tips the balance toward hugging is the timeframe of the family law case. While you probably wouldn’t be tempted to hug the bank teller, you really get to know your family law attorney. Contentious legal cases can sometimes drag out for a long time. During that time, you get acquainted with your lawyer personally. You might trade stories of kids’ graduations and family vacations.
“I sometimes find that if I wasn’t representing certain people,” Wayne-Spindler says, “I really like them and I want to be their friend.”
For a family law attorney, court cases are more than just work. Yes, family lawyers are motivated to win. It’s not just about the professional bragging rights. They probably became personally invested in the case along the way. Any good family lawyer truly wants an outcome that is best for the parties involved. Divorce attorneys sometimes get a bad rap. Sometimes it’s because the client had nefarious intent to begin with and found an attorney to go along with it. Sometimes the greedy attorney steers the client toward a lopsided settlement. But there are so many other ways of making a really fine living with a law degree that there must be some humanity for an attorney to choose family law. Any good family lawyer probably feels excited about designing a just and fair agreement. And they should derive personal satisfaction when the parties reach détente. When the case reaches a successful conclusion, it’s often just as much a triumph for the attorney as the client. A celebration hug is sometimes in order.
“In case you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a hugger,” says Kathy.
Over the years, she’s established a really good sense of when a client can use a hug. And if a hug is forthcoming, you’ll know.
Don’t let the discussion of hugging mislead. She is not mushy. She’s not weak. Kathryn Wayne-Spindler has a gift for being able to give clients aggressive representative in the courtroom as well as emotionally-supportive and compassionate counsel out of the courthouse.
Contact the Milford, Michigan Law Firm of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for aggressive and compassionate legal representation. The family lawyers help clients throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne, Livingston and Genesee counties. The attorneys handle cases in Milford, Michigan; Hartland; Highland; Wixom; White Lake; Walled Lake; Waterford; Commerce; South Lyon; New Hudson; Linden; Howell; Grand Blanc; Holly and many more local communities.
Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long,
Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates