As you will remember from Monday, I received a letter from a woman feeling pressured by her former divorce lawyer to donate money to certain charities.
She named herself “Ashamed,” and confessed to some dirty dealing during her divorce. If you missed it, please read it before you proceed.
This question demanded a bifurcated response:
- Ashamed needs to take responsibility for what she did in the past; and
- She needs to take control of her relationship with her former lawyer.
I addressed item #1 Monday, so today I deliver unto “Ashamed” my practical solution to item #2.
If you have yet to make a decision or take action on my advice on the conversation with your ex-husband, I am not certain how much today’s advice will help you.
That’s because what follows below depends in large part upon the freedom that will come from your revelation, atonement, and apology to your ex – regardless of whether he can forgive you.
I’ll deliver it anyway and hope you are either leaning towards or have already decided to follow my instructions in Monday’s blog.
How to Handle Your Former Lawyer in Three Easy Steps:
The next time you receive a donation demand respond with the following:
“I have made very specific decisions regarding my charitable giving from this point on and your organizations are not on my list. I hope you can understand that my resources are finite and I must therefore narrow my donations to those groups that speak most to me and the issues about which I am passionate.
“Your excitement for your organizations is admirable and they are lucky to have your support and enthusiasm, but those are not the groups to which I’ll be making any further financial commitments. Thank you for thinking of me, and have a great day.”
You will notice this first step is written in a very friendly tone. Most people would read that and immediately respond positively, while making a note to not solicit donations from this person any longer.
Most people would do that. For the others who would continue application of donation pressure even after this communication, we move to Step #2.
If your lawyer pushes back on your extremely well-crafted explanation of why you won’t be donating to her pet charities any longer, respond with this:
“Your insistence that I contribute to your favorite charities, ‘Divorce Lawyers Need Vacation Homes Too,’ and ‘It’s Hard Being Rich: Helping the Wealthy Deal with Life,’ is puzzling. I could not have been more clear and I am concerned about your lack of respect regarding boundaries.
“I know your dedication to these causes is great, but I believe it is overwhelming your sense of propriety. Please understand my position and don’t make any further requests, as my mind is quite settled on this issue and my charitable commitments are already spoken for. Thank you.”
That should absolutely shut down any further badgering by your dirty divorce lawyer. A person would have to be wholly without any sense of self-awareness, manners, personal and professional boundaries, and the needs of others to ignore that message.
However, this morning I reviewed the details of despicable actions taken and things you observed about your lawyer during your divorce, including her propensity towards spilling tea (this means gossip, to those of you not as hip as me) about some of her more wealthy and well-known clients.
I also noted again the bizarre way she treated you during your initial consult: she yelled at you, told you you’re stupid, ordered you to get out of her office, and snarled that you should buy some sexy underwear to re-ignite the passion in your marriage. Since I have heard similar stories from dozens of people, I can tell you there is a method to what seems like madness.
Readers are likely shaking their heads and thinking, “Why would a lawyer hoping to get hired berate the potential client in that way?” I have an answer for you, but I’ll deal with it in another blog because I received a letter two weeks ago regarding the exact same subject. I answered the writer directly and put it aside but now I’m thinking it’s a good subject for a future piece.
So, even though the language suggested above would stop nearly anyone from continuing solicitation, I’m not sure it will cease such activities by this particular person. That’s when we drop the Hiroshima bomb of truth.
If your lawyer again demands a donation, tell her this:
“As my divorce lawyer, you have been privy to many private details of my life. My fear you would divulge those details has compelled me to donate to what I see as your ridiculous and self-serving ’causes’ for years.
“My fear was based specifically on my clear recollection of you trying to impress me with details about _________’s divorce and what a moron you thought he was.
“Even worse, when you suggested I initiate a confrontation with my then-husband to provoke him into a physical altercation, you told me you had done this in the past with ___________ and __________ and ____________ and that it worked every time.
“I’ve lived with the guilt and shame of taking your sleazy advice for years. That guilt and shame has, like my fear of your tendency towards gossip, driven me to capitulate when you bully me into donations. That ends now. I have come clean with my ex-husband and asked for his forgiveness. You no longer have any power over me.”
“I’m already considering filing a bar complaint against you for the unethical advice you gave me during my divorce. Should I ever hear from you again, especially with a donation demand, I will include your wildly inappropriate and barely-veiled threats against me via these numerous communications demanding money from me. This smells like extortion and I won’t stand for it any longer.
“In other words: lose my number and my email address, bitch, or I will fuck up your life like you did mine.
“Have a beautiful day!
“No Longer Ashamed.”
Ashamed, please see that I have renamed you based upon your talk with your ex-husband. I am very much hoping you will take my advice, both Monday’s and today’s, and contact me soon with an update.
It is never too late to make things right with people you’ve harmed so long as they are still living.
Free yourself: unshackle the chains of regret you and your lawyer looped around your soul and move on. How you identify yourself in the future, “Ashamed” or “No Longer Ashamed,” depends upon you and your actions.
I wish you the very best and look forward to speaking with you again soon.