We Take Our Clients As We Find Them
There is a well-known principle in tort law that says “defendants take their victims as they find them”. What this means, in essence, is if a person were to hit another person on the head and it turned out the injured person had a fragile skull and thus sustained much more severe injuries as a result of the strike than were foreseeable (or than would have occurred if the person had a normal skull), the defendant would be liable for all the injuries that were sustained, despite it not being outwardly apparent that the person’s skull was thin (how could someone possibly know the thickness of another’s skull just by looking?)
What does this have to do with Collaborative Law? In my opinion, everything. When people come to us, we see what they want us to see, what they are willing to show us. We may make many assumptions about them, their needs, their wants, their readiness for the divorce, etc. Yet we don’t know. Only as cases progress do we get a glimpse (if we’re lucky) of what is underneath.
The point is, we often don’t know what is going on for our clients. We don’t know what is on the inside, whether it be ideas, traumas, experiences, realities that they have faced or are facing. Sometimes our assumptions are wrong. Sometimes we are surprised to discover what is underneath the façade. Sometimes we become frustrated at behavior that doesn’t make sense to us.
It is at this point that it is important for us to remember that maybe we don’t know everything, maybe we aren’t the experts, and maybe we don’t know what is best for them.
We have to take our clients as we find them.