Be glad you’re not a fungus. Sure, that sounds obvious, but one little-known aspect of being a fungus is struggling with gender. Or genders. Plural — lots and lots of genders. One fungus, the Splitgill mushroom has 28,000 sexes, says fungus fun guy Tom Volk1. With your Virginia family law issue, does the gender of your attorney matter? Or is that even the right question to ask?
Gender Might Matter … To You
Choosing a family law attorney is a deeply personal matter. For Virginia’s men, family law can be intensely intimate: domestic violence, separation, child custody, sex crimes, high asset contested divorce, infidelity — these are all topics that some men may find hard to discuss with a woman.
Imagine discussing your alleged domestic violence charge or sex crime with a female attorney. Some men simply are not comfortable with that. If you find yourself feeling that way, you may want to ally yourself with a highly experienced, male attorney.
Some attorneys’ clients over-think the attorney selection process. They hope, for example, that a female attorney will somehow better defend them against accusations of domestic violence.
The supposed logic here is that the female attorney would not knowingly defend someone who was violent toward a member of her own sex. As if the tribe of women instinctively stick together under such circumstances. So, if she would never betray her gender, her client must be innocent. Such a strategy is really more wishful thinking than a legally sound path to winning.
Are Female Attorneys Softer, More Maternal?
Though they can be accused of sexist thinking, some clients feel that a female attorney will use less confrontational strategies than her male counterpart. Instead of aggressively cross-examining witnesses the female attorney may, this line of thinking goes, use subtlety and wile to lure witnesses into accidentally tripping themselves up.
Most attorneys actually practicing in hearings and courtrooms would disagree with that simplistic notion, but some clients stake their case on a female attorney’s supposed “softer” approach.
Are Female Lawyers More Empathetic?
Some clients think women are better listeners than men. The logic in this is that a female lawyer will have better intuition, compassion, and empathy for your plight than a male attorney. Since a big part of Virginia family law does involve emotions and relationships, the female lawyer supposedly has an edge up on male attorneys.
All these arguments, if viewed the other way around, are actually couched insults against men. Men, this line of thinking goes, cannot defend innocent clients, be kind to others, or display empathy.
If Gender Doesn’t Matter, What Does?!
Most legal experts will tell you that the gender of your attorney matters far less than her or his experience in handling cases similar to yours.
Beyond having a proven track record of providing zealous defense for clients, your attorney should meet a few other gender-neutral standards:
- Will your attorney devote the time and attention to your case you feel it deserves?
- Will your attorney handle your case personally?
- Does your prospective attorney’s strategy agree with your general thoughts on your case?
If you are determined to select a legal counselor based on appearances to support your case, why stop at gender? Why not seek out an old, balding, paunchy attorney to handle your divorce, so you by contrast look dashing and handsome to everyone in the courtroom? That sounds silly, of course. You hire a lawyer based on skill, not appearance or gender.
A good family law attorney, regardless of gender, listens to the client, develops and communicates a sound legal strategy, and defends the client’s rights at every opportunity.
Good attorneys know the personalities of judges, the names of court clerks, and the best time of day to file motions. Great attorneys get all those details right and consistently win cases.
So, Your Wife Hired a Female Attorney
As legal services become more and more focused, women have been encouraged to seek out female attorneys. This does not in any way automatically strengthen your wife’s position or weaken your own.
The traditional statue of justice depicts her with a blindfold so that she is impartial to appearances, seeking only the truth. Most Virginia judges pursue that goal honorably, too, turning a blind eye to the gender of attorneys. More important than your wife’s female attorney is your wife’s legal case. A weak case is not strengthened by the courtroom antics of a female lawyer.
Some Virginia men feel that a wife’s move to hire a female lawyer makes their own cases weaker. Supposedly their own attorney will look mean and evil for seeming to attack the opposing counsel. Those Virginia men thinking that way have seen too many television courtroom dramas. Real law is far more sedate than fictional depictions; lawyers do not viciously attack each other or make wild accusations. They argue the case. They present the evidence. They cite legal precedent.
It’s About Skill, Not Sex
As you seek a Virginia attorney to represent you in a Virginia family law issue, worry more about finding counselors with honed legal skills and worry less about their gender. Ask pertinent questions:
- Fee structure
- Legal strategy
- Number of cases handled
- Anticipated timeline for resolution of the case
You will be sharing intimate details about your life. Select an attorney who sets you at ease, who “gets” you. Leave the gender issues to the mushrooms.
For Virginia’s men, The Firm For Men provides superb legal advice. Our attorneys just happen also to be men, each dedicated to fighting for men’s rights in the Old Dominion. Contact us online or telephone our offices at 757-383-9184 to connect with an experienced Virginia family law attorney. We listen, we help, and we defend your rights and financial security.