I was recently reminded that when divorcing clients sit face to face, as opposed to participating in their lawyer’s letter writing campaigns, so much more can be accomplished. A face to face meeting between two parties and their respective counsel is called a “four way.” I have made a conscience shift in my law practice to break away from the old school of practicing law by engaging in the constant exchange of increasingly strident demand letters. Letters between lawyers become more and more aggressive and less and less productive as each mailing passes. My letter would demand something and inflame the other side who in turn would demand something bigger and that would inflame my client. Sooner or later, the demands become ridiculous and the real issue that needs to be addressed becomes lost in a cloud of legal rhetoric.
While the thought of sitting across the table from one’s soon-to-be ex-spouse can be difficult, I prepare my client’s by setting down an agenda ahead of time and discussing what issues in their matter are most pressing. We cannot settle an entire case in one sitting, but having the agenda and a list of priorities allows us to enter the conference room with a sense of purpose and a united front. Not knowing where the other side is coming from can be a tremendous source of stress. Therefore, before most four ways I reach out to the other lawyer to get a sense of the other parties concerns and any upcoming surprises (good or unpleasant) that I need to prepare my client for. By following this format, the case moves faster and more efficiently and ultimately costs my clients less in money and wear and tear.