Strategists Have Been There, Done That

By Marlo Van Oorschot
Van Oorschot Law Group PC

A strategist is a person who is experienced, educated, and trained in a particular field; one who has “been in the trenches”; has climbed out of those trenches to have perspective and then able to guide others around or through those same trenches. 

 As a family law litigator for more than 27 years, climbing out of those trenches is hard to do but long earned. Advocating for people in those trenches is righteous work, but most clients in those trenches are tired and muddied by the process. The lawyers in the trench are often so deeply involved in the battle at hand; sometimes feeling like the never-ending putting out of fires is the primary job, that strategy is often an afterthought.

 Having a legal strategist on your side can clear the muddied process of family law. Whether through full representation whereby a process of thoughtful and thorough negotiations is employed to reach an agreement; or working alongside litigation counsel to bring a different point of view to the litigated matter; one not mired by deadlines and the pressure of preparation that litigation requires, I am convinced that having a strategy is critical.

The Process

Regular Team Meetings. When a legal strategist is engaged to work alongside litigation counsel, regular meetings are scheduled to allow litigation counsel, the client, and the strategist to develop goals and strategies; to ensure the strategy is still valid, and to make any adjustments needed. These meetings allow for a highly efficient use of time to work together as a team, rather than the disjointed use of emails amongst a team. In this day and age, we have all become proficient with Zoom and other similar platforms, conference calls, and the like. Jumping into a virtual meeting is easy, extremely efficient, and productive.

Developing Legal Arguments & Positions. A good strategy requires the law and the facts to support a goal; but then it requires a thoughtful and thorough development of the “if this, then that” thinking to craft the requested relief being sought from a judge or to be written in a negotiated agreement. A legal strategist has the freedom away from the day-to-day mandates of litigation counsel to develop these key documents that will guide the litigation and/or court order and settlement agreement thereafter.

Client Liaison. Litigators are some of the busiest people I have ever known; and getting in touch with your lawyer is not always easy or quick. Having a legal strategist who is an integral part of your matter there to answer questions, provide guidance and to “interpret attorney-speak” so you never feel left in the dark.


Clearly, having a legal strategist on your team is another professional to be paid.  However, what I can share with you, and you may already know, is that family law matters are often very expensive, and results are highly unpredictable, especially in a courtroom. While expense and unpredictability cannot be entirely eliminated. they can be lessened with the setting of a strategy designed around realistic goals. Investing the time and resources to develop the strategy to keep your matter moving forward and in the right direction from the outset is the key to managing the risks and expenses required to get you to the finish line.