Here in Illinois, we have lawyers who hold themselves out as being in favor of “Men’s Rights” or “Women’s Rights.” You should retain a good lawyer and not a lawyer who holds himself/herself out as a man’s or woman’s lawyer.
For a divorce will I be better off retaining a lawyer of the same gender?
The choice of a lawyer (like the choice of a physician) is a highly personal matter. If you believe you will be more comfortable with a lawyer of the same gender, then you should select one of the same gender. Your choice, however, should not be made solely on the basis of gender. The most significant item is the qualifications of the lawyer.
Are there a sufficient number of women lawyers so I can select one to my liking?
Yes. When H. Joseph Gitlin started practicing in McHenry County, there was only one woman lawyer. Now, of the lawyers who regularly appear in the divorce courtrooms, slightly more than half are women.
If I want aggressive representation, am I better served by retaining a lawyer who holds himself out as a men’s rights lawyer, or she holds herself out to be a women’s rights specialist?
No. There is a divorce firm in Chicago which advertises as being a men’s rights firm. There was also a lawyer in McHenry County who holds himself out as a men’s rights lawyer. In my view this is strictly a business promotion.
The fact that a lawyer holds himself/herself out as being a man’s lawyer, or a woman’s lawyer, does not make that lawyer knowledgeable about the law or a capable litigator. Regarding negotiations, a one gender lawyer is sometimes at a disadvantage because he/she is viewed by the judge and by opposing counsel as a lawyer with a strong bias who is on a crusade.
Won’t a gender lawyer be more aggressive?
Maybe, but being a consistent pit bull usually backfires. It is the judge who decides the case. Judges do not like “in your face” lawyers. In litigation, aggression and anger should be used only sparingly and with discretion. On the other hand, confidence and assertiveness, born out of being a superior lawyer, are appropriate and desirable.
Does the Gitlin Law Firm represent one gender more than another?
No. While we do not have current statistics, several years ago we did a 12-month survey. I was surprised and pleased to find that the spread between female and male clients was almost exactly 50/50.