Saturday, April 7, 2018

Book Review: If You're in My Office, It's Already Too Late: A Divorce Lawyer's Guide to Staying Together by James J. Sexton

Come for the entertaining stories about divorcing partners, stay for the simple, practical advice for staying together and working things out.

James is a divorce lawyer in New York City. He's one of the rare divorce lawyers who wanted to go into that field from day one (most wannabee lawyers are more idealistic and change their minds partway through or after law school.) He doesn't relish destroying relationships but they're already destroyed before they get to him. And he himself is divorced. At some point it occurred to him that his knowledge of what doesn't work, could be helpful to others. Kind of along the lines of "if you can't be a good example, at least be a horrible warning."

Some of the stories are fascinating in a car-wreck kind of way. Some were a little sad, and a couple were even inspiring (one couple found out while in their lawyers' offices that their child was injured and they immediately put all animosity aside to work together on that problem as a team.) The most practical advice he gives I don't think will work for everyone--which is that when something bothers you, send a brief email about it to your partner right away. Don't let it fester, don't let it grow. He doesn't address the volume of these or choosing your battles, so I can foresee some issues with that particular advice, but I'm sure it would work for some people.

I think this book would be best for people thinking of getting married, or even in the first few years, as being forewarned is forearmed.

This book is published by Henry Holt, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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