Should I Hire a Long Island or New York City Attorney?

One of the things you will frequently hear people on Long Island discuss when they’re contemplating divorce is whether or not they should hire that “big city attorney.” Even among Long Islanders, there’s a perception that Long Island is a series of Mayberry towns and that when something life changing occurs, like a health issue or divorce – that we should run to New York City for professional care or advice.

Fair enough. We’re a little “Mayberry” in some respects. But when it comes to the legal profession I can assure you, Long Island is as “big time” as it gets. The most noticeable difference between Long Island firms and city firms is the billable rate. The most important difference between Long Island attorneys and New York City attorneys is something far less tangible.

Courts are made up of people. Court Officers and Clerks check you in. Court officers maintain order. Paralegals, mediators, assistants, clerks, attorneys and swarms of other people comprise the bustling beehive of activity that is the courthouse. We may all fall under the umbrella of one legal system, but the process varies from county to county and even from courtroom to courtroom within each county and there is such thing as home field advantage to some extent. I don’t mean this in the way you might think. For the most part, cases are adjudicated on their merits and the presentation of facts and rule of law win the day (at least in theory). But remember, there are people behind the process and those people have good days and bad days, habits and preferences. Knowing where to go, whom to speak with, when to speak to them and when to shut up means more than you might realize.

I can assure you, Long Island is as “big time” as it gets

Think about it in terms of your own job and life. Are you more or less apt to answer questions and make time for a complete stranger or someone you are familiar with? If you had to stop your day to familiarize new people with the “way things are done around here,” each and every day, it would be a little grating on your nerves. The same holds true for the courthouse. Behind the judge’s bench there is a highly functioning nervous system comprised of hundreds of people from janitorial and cafeteria staff to mediators and the ever-important law clerk. The attorney standing before these people could come from Nassau County, Brooklyn or the moon for all they care as long as that attorney knows the protocol and doesn’t make their lives more difficult. Just like you, these people have responsibilities and families. And just like you they want to do their jobs and get home at the end of the day.

It’s common sense really. But to the client, who is arguably going through the most troubling period in his or her life, common sense is rarely a factor. The tendency to overthink what is happening and make decisions from an emotional perspective is rampant in divorce cases. A high price lawyer with a (212) phone number doesn’t make a difference and does not impress anyone except maybe your personal friends. What makes a difference is finding an attorney that suits your needs and personality and knows which way the bathroom is to best prevent your case from going down the toilet.