Los Angeles, CA family law attorney Robert W. Eisfelder talks about his approach to the practice, advice for clients and who his mentors were.
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My philosophy as a lawyer is to try to counsel clients and to give them a straightforward assessment as to what their case is about, how they should approach their case, and consider the fact that they are in litigation that potentially could be extremely expensive. We try to do a cost-benefit analysis in this approach and that analysis will allow the client to make decisions that they can reflect upon and be informed about, rather than merely let the lawyers take on everything and the client not be involved. The other thing we try to do is we learn from our clients. That’s what I like about family law. One day I may be representing a real estate broker, another day a money manager, another day the most important job in the world, a mom. And I learn from my clients and I ask a lot of questions, and I love doing that.
What it takes to be a good family law attorney is the ability to actually listen and counsel your clients. There’s a lot of technical aspects in family law, and being creative in how to approach those technical aspects become extremely important in the analysis. The most important thing in family law in my view is understanding who your client is, what their needs are, and what their goals are, and to try to help them understand the best way to accomplish the purpose for which they’ve retained us.
I ask my clients in terms of the type of advice that I want them to think about, is how do you best resolve your problem so you can move on with your life? Every case is unique. Some cases have to be tried, some cases have to be heavily litigated, and other cases can easily be disposed of if both sides and their lawyers try and work cooperatively to get the case resolved.
My mentor goes back to 1972 when I was recruited to become an associate in the law firm of Meserve, Mumper, and Hughes. What I learned at the Meserve firm is how to be ethical, to let your clients understand that you’re there for them, and to be available. Also I learned from the firm to be extremely well-prepared in going to trial.