So when I was in high school, the guys grew out their sideburns- 90210 style. A few months ago, I thought I would revive the look. I didn’t shave for a few days and when I did, I carved in some that would make Dillon proud. I let them grow for a week or so. As you may have suspected, they didn’t look right. Not because they weren’t cool- they were. It was mainly because one of them appeared to be gapped. It was weird. Upon close examination, my sideburns were not gapped at all- they had gray hair that made them appear that way. Just wrong!

Periodically, I get a call from a lawyer who wants to meet and talk about the practice of family law. It happens every few months. I had one of those meeting today. I have one tomorrow too. With litigation reform, dying mass tort litigation, medical malpractice limitations and other changes in the Mississippi legal climate, big firm’s bottom lines are not as healthy as they used to be. Lawyers are losing jobs left and right and many super bright law students are finding that the legal job market is terrible when they get out. For some, upon losing their job, they have an epiphany that they want to practice family law. That’s why they see me. They are either looking for a job or they are considering “hanging their shingle” and want some advice. Everyone thinks they can practice family law, because most lawyers know someone with a family legal issue.

I love these meetings. They are flattering and frankly I have a good deal of information to offer about this business. One of the only things I like about “getting gray hair” is that I am now a veteran family law attorney. I have tried cases in almost every jurisdiction in Mississippi and also in Tennessee. My firm only does family law- nothing else.

Many of these lawyers trying to find themselves are very bright. The one I met with today is exceptional. Her resume from an academic standpoint was as impressive as I have ever seen. People just like her are flooding the family law legal market. So should you, a potential family law client, hire these young guns? No.

Listen, you cannot learn this stuff in a text book. You cannot learn it doing research at the Supreme Court or in an internship in Washington D.C. The way you learn how to practice family law is to do it. In over ten years of doing nothing but family law, I am hard to surprise. When horrific things happen, I don’t freak out. I focus. I can often predict the outcome of a case in the initial meeting. I did not learn this stuff in law school. I learned it by doing it.

I was a young gun once. Frankly, I had no business working on the cases I did. I was trying solo trials before many of my classmates had ever opened their mouth in open court. I am not bragging- I’m just saying. If you find yourself sitting across the desk from a prospective family law attorney, ask her the questions that I answered in this blog post from February. Ask her how many divorces she has handled. Ask her how many cases she has tried. How many in front of the judge presiding over your case? How many against the opposing counsel? If you like what you hear, roll with it.

I love young lawyers. We have some great young legal talent at my firm, and many days I still consider myself to be one. Do your homework. That’s all my sideburns and I are saying.

By: Craig Robertson 

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