Is your divorce lawyer a shark?

If so is that a good or a bad thing?

A new client came into my office last week for her second meeting and to drop off all the documents that we needed to get started on her divorce. During that time she told me that she had spoken to someone else who A Divorce Lawyer Sharkmentioned that they had come to my office for a consultation and ended up hiring a different lawyer.

When I heard her say this I felt a little twinge of pain. It was like someone blocked my game winning shot. You see, I’m extremely competitive and don’t like to lose at anything. And that competiveness extends to both the courtroom and the business world. Hearing that someone chose another lawyer wasn’t a great feeling.

But then my new client went on to say that this person stated to her that she really liked me but thought she needed a lawyer who was more of a “shark”. At that point in our conversation the twinge of pain I had initially felt instantly vanished. I was very happy to not be considered a “shark”.

If you look in the dictionary you will see that a “shark” is defined as the following:

  • A person who is ruthless, greedy, or dishonest, and;
  • A person who preys on or victimizes others, especially by swindling or extortion.

Reading the above definition, who would want to hire a Memphis divorce lawyer considered to be a “shark”? And why?

Divorce can already be a very ugly and messy affair. The last thing you need is a lawyer that may be looking out more for his own self-interest than yours. And a “shark” is the type of lawyer who is going to be pursuing litigation primarily for his or her own self-interest not yours.

In fact, I’ve found that the lawyers who act like “sharks” usually end up hurting your case much more than they help it. They build false hope and expectation, which they almost never deliver on. And they leave a wake of carcasses behind them, one of which is usually their own client.

I have a decidedly un-shark like philosophy at my divorce firm because I feel that it’s always best to do what’s in your best interest, not my own. This starts at our initial marital assessment interview.

When you come to my office I’m going to tell you, just like I do every client that I meet with, my Three Golden Rules for Those Considering Divorce:

1.     Make sure that your marriage isn’t salvageable before you get a divorce. Barring physical abuse and endangerment, if there is any possibility that you can save your marriage try to do it.

2.     Go uncontested! If you must get a divorce then first try to work out the details between each other. If you can agree on how to divide your property and how to handle the parenting duties of your children without getting the courts involved then do it. You’ll save tens of thousands of dollars doing this and you’ll be able to walk away without the pain and anguish that a fully litigated divorce brings.

3.     A contested divorce is going to hurt! It’s going to hurt you financially and emotionally. And it’s going to take a long time to get anything resolved. Try to avoid a contested divorce because the only person who wins is your attorney.

When you hire a “shark” as a lawyer you aren’t going to hear Rule One or Rule Two from the list above. Instead you’ll likely find yourself speaking with a lawyer who gives bold predictions and statements about what he’s going to do to hurt your spouse and make him pay. But that comes with a very high price tag, again both emotionally and financially.  Remember Rule Three, particularly the last part of it? In a contested divorce “the only person who wins is your attorney.”  And the “shark” will be looking to feed himself.

There’s also one other point I want to make to you if you’re considering hiring me as your Memphis divorce attorney. Don’t let the fact that I feel an amicable and agreed divorce is the best type of divorce to pursue make you think I’m not aggressive in my representation of you in contested matters.

Remember that “don’t like losing” thing I wrote above? I don’t like losing at all. And I don’t represent clients in contested divorces unless they are someone I believe in. When this is combined you can be assured that I will use every avenue of the law and ounce of my skills to get you the best result possible.

I know what it takes to win. The fact that I am honest and treat you well as a client does not correlate to weakness in court or negotiations, as many of my clients can attest. In fact, I love being in the courtroom. But just because I like to be there doesn’t mean it’s the best place to resolve your divorce.

When you hire me you’re getting an advocate who is ALWAYS looking out for your best interest. And that starts at our first meeting when I try to get you to save your marriage and not hire me at all. When you hire a “shark” you’re hiring someone who is looking out for his own best interest, and that starts at the first meeting as well.

Thankfully the new client who hired me and told me of the other potential client agreed with my philos0phy. I’m very grateful to her and the many others who have given me their trust and support. This has allowed us to become one of the most successful divorce law firms in Memphis.

Jami Ferrell is a lawyer in Memphis, Tennessee who helps women who are confronting divorce and recovering from accidents. He can be reached at 901-754-1340 or by email at

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  1. It’s been my experience that people who hire “shark” attorneys, one way or another lose in the end.

  2. Lois,

    I agree. The “shark” can sometimes forget who their friends (clients) are and will just fight for the sake of fighting.

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