Welcome to Friday Feedback, your opportunity to marinate along with me in the stew of praise and hate that will eventually culminate in a rich and meaty critique ragu. Can you tell I’m cooking today?
The most meaningful feedback I’ve received lately wasn’t really blog-related, although it was related to my giving very pointed and brutally honest advice to a friend and her soon to be ex-husband. You may have already read about it on my Facebook page but I’ll summarize again.
I did a good deed that made me feel great and simultaneously took tens of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of my two favorite divorce firms. Best win/win I’ve had in a long time.
Someone I am very fond of and her husband are going through a divorce. Each retained a lawyer from the top two worst firms in Portland – the top file-churning, money-burning sue-your-client-when-they-can’t-pay-because-you-billed-them-to-death baby lawyer nurseries in the city.
She and I spoke at length and she told me she and her husband were getting along and had actually resolved all of the issues between themselves with no help from the lawyers despite the significant bills that had been generated thus far in the case.
Funny how that happens, especially when one firm has a 24 minute billing requirement and the other has a 12 minute billing requirement.
(WTF? That can’t be right!)
People keep asking me what that means so I’ll give you an example. Imagine your lawyer bills at $300 per hour at a firm with a minimum billing unit of .4. He writes you an email that takes 1 minute to compose. A typical one from my favorite firm would probably say something along the following lines:
“Hey, Sally! How did you like that braised testicle dish our in-house chef whipped up for you last week? Would you like the recipe? Also, I have some great ideas on a new career for you because you really should become self-supportive.
“LOL – just kidding!!! Let’s meet when you get back to discuss creative approaches to your tax returns and how you can ensure you never lose the permanent alimony we are fighting for you to receive. Enjoy your trip to Hawaii; I just returned from there myself! The Four Seasons is wonderful, isn’t it?”
That email cost the client $120, and if the client writes back it gets worse, because now the lawyer will probably charge $120 to read Sally’s response.
“I’d love the testicle recipe, thanks! I have my husband’s balls in my Prada purse so I don’t even need to source the main ingredient! I’ll be sure to bring some by for you to sample!”
He will also charge another $120 to reply.
“Great! Can’t wait to have your husband’s balls in my mouth for a change; usually they are in a vice we keep in the main conference room!”
That right there is $360 bucks in billable time, and that adds up and it adds up fast.
The couple had one remaining issue at hand – spousal support – and both their lawyers were encouraging them to duke it out. Alimony is of course the gift that keeps on giving for divorce lawyers because since there are no guidelines, negotiating alimony is very fuzzy and takes time. Lots and lots of time, even long after the divorce is final because of the almost certain modification attempts that will follow.
Clearly, excessive time spent/billed on a case = Bentleys and beach houses. Unfortunately, most divorcing clients are so messed up emotionally that they don’t recognize they are getting hammered in the financial ass arguing about alimony and their lawyers are encouraging them to do so.
Worse than the financial rape, the lawyers bend over the family and destroy any remaining good will that remains between them. I liken divorcing couples to a fire that has almost gone out: if you are thoughtful and wise about the long-term needs of your kids and your own emotional health, there are embers burning even as you divorce.
A good lawyer (or more likely, a mediator) will help you coax those embers into a new fire – not a new romantic one of marriage but rather an incredibly valuable one of friendship and expert co-parenting.
Many lawyers (especially the Divorce Lawyer Who Shall Not be Named and her zygote gape-mouthed sycophant associates averaging 54 days out of law school) see those embers and know they indicate a speedy and conflict-free divorce. In other words, a fucking disaster. So they piss all over the little glowing balls of hope and opportunity and render them as cold and black as deepest space and the founding partner’s heart.
By speaking with this woman and later at length with her husband, I made some suggestions on a compromise which they both found palatable. I also spoke at length with them about the tender point they are at right now and how critical it is they maintain the good feelings and fire the fuckwads who are encouraging them to fight over a sum of money that in the end is less than half of what EACH LAWYER will earn litigating the issue.
And finally, to the feedback portion of today’s blog! This woman posted a photo of herself, her husband and her daughter that was taken after they came to an agreement in which they looked happy, relaxed and competent to carry on a positive post-dissolution co-parenting relationship. Along with the photo, she wrote:
“Robin DesCamp for President! Ya iPhone carrying Democrat…that I will forever be indebted to!!! This photo is because of you!”
I’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback on what I’m doing to change the paradigm of divorce these days, but this one really took the cake. I’m not lying when I tell you I got pretty choked up over her post.
I received enormous feedback on my post Women in Numbers, which examined the fairer sex’s tendency to gossip and tear each other down, especially when we gather in large numbers. From “Therese” came this:
“Robin, your honesty and vulnerability comes through so strongly in this piece and I am grateful you shared it. Having been the perpetrator and victim of this type of behavior myself and the subject of completely fictional gossip when a former friend turned on me, I know all too well how devastating this type of behavior can be.
“I have taken note of your new ‘mantra’ and will live by it! Anyone doing this to you is probably jealous! Thanks for your words and your courage.”
I probably received over three dozen responses to that blog but I’m over my word limit already so I’ll just address Therese.
Therese, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m sorry you have experienced this phenomenon and glad my work has inspired you to be more cognizant of your own participation in the cowardly mob mentality that can sometimes arise when women get together. I just bought this book and can’t wait to read it – I suggest you do the same!
I am not fond of labeling people as “jealous” in these types of situations because it feels to me like an ineffective way to react to criticism and gossip. I’m not convinced anyone is jealous or envious of me because I haven’t yet really accomplished a fraction of what I intend to.
See, that’s going to take one more year. At that point, when some of these gals are still doing what they are doing which for some of my biggest fans is a whole lot of nothing, I think then we can label them “jealous.” Until that point, let’s just settle on “unhappy,” because the happiest people I know are absolutely allergic to this behavior.
By the way, have you ever noticed when you shift from a bad point in your life to a really good one, negative and unhappy people fall away? It’s no coincidence.
OK, I’m off to do a 6 mile run and 100 push-ups. I have a photo shoot in less than 3 weeks so it’s GO TIME and I’ve got to be the best that I can be. If anyone out there has any suggestions for radical wrinkle removal and losing ten pounds in twenty minutes, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend, and GO DUCKS!