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Pressure to Donate: Chapter Two

Dear Readers:

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.

Pressure to Donate from My Lawyer

This question demanded a bifurcated response: 

  1. Ashamed needs to take responsibility for what she did in the past; and
  2. 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.

Dear Ashamed:

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:

STEP ONE

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.

STEP TWO

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.

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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.

STEP THREE

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! 

“Drop Dead,

“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.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. CBAH

    Robin, what is your opinion on the charity circuit here in Portland? Here are my observations:

    1. The ones pertaining to “arts” are consistently populated by the exact same faces over and over again. Some have minor celebrity status, others are simply wealthy, and still others are clearly “star-fuckers.” It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day” only this one is filled with people who find themselves to be both important and overly-fabulous, despite all proof to the contrary.

    2. The more serious events raising money for things like Children’s Cancer Association, while still populated with Portland’s arrogant, don’t seem as filled with with self-promoters as do the arts events. Unfortunately, they are too-often boring.

    3. Nobody seems interested in the more hands-on type of charitable giving. My daughter and I spend time every quarter building or helping in other ways with Habitat for Humanity, handing out sandwiches on Burnside, and delivering coats and food to the homeless during the winter months. I don’t see that kind of direct compassionate giving happening as much as I think it should.

    Just curious about your thoughts since I know you’ve lived here for a long time and I am a mere 20-year non-native Portland resident and lover of our city.

    1. Robin DesCamp

      Your comment just arrived and I’m pissed because I am really late for my workout today and I was just about to get on it. However, this comment is so awesome I have to reply immediately.

      1. There are a lot of great people in Portland who attend the events that raise money for the arts. However, I stopped going to these events a few years ago for exactly the reasons you listed. The thing that always struck me about the majority of attendees was my constant surprise they didn’t walk around gazing lovingly into a hand-held mirror – that is how much these people admire and adore themselves. I imagine them all preparing to masturbate with either that mirror or a photo montage of selfies for inspiration.

      They all stroke each other’s precious but fragile egos as they flit around taking photos and instantly posting them on social media. “Look at me! See how fabulous I am! See how much I care! I am amazing!” There is something so pathetic about wanting to be on top of the “social scene” here in Portland because it’s all so vapid and vacuous; meaningless and moronic. Certain people post so much shit on Facebook at these events that I wonder how they would have ever survived in a time prior to social media.

      2. I totally agree some of those events can be boring. It’s up to you to reach out to event planners and make suggestions on how to improve the fundraisers. I’d like to see karaoke battles between sworn enemies for entertainment, or perhaps mud-wrestling. “Casino night” and “A Night in Provence” are so fucking overplayed and encourage mass suicide, as opposed to mass giving.

      3. I just figured out your name, CBAH. Was that an acronym for “Charity Begins at Home?” I totally agree. I admire what you are doing and especially the positive impact it is having not only on those you help, but your daughter as well. Keep doing it and spread the word to encourage others to join you. I donate more hours than I can count talking with people tangled up in the family court system and while I don’t get paid for that work, it is the most satisfying I’ve ever done.

      However, direct donations such as yours and mine are not for everyone. We should celebrate any person who contributes to charity because so many do not. Please note I mean real organizations that do good work; not pretend ones of which there are many. More on that coming up in a later blog. Thanks for your comment, now I’m off to sweat!

  2. Donor

    I can attest to getting pressured by someone I was in a former professional relationship with and it was very uncomfortable for me. I finally avoided those calls like the plague and after almost a year that seemed to do the trick. I now Avery my gaze on those unfortunate occasions when I run into that person and always felt the pressure was deeply inappropriate. Thanks for sharing this!

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