Divorce Mediation Movement: Lawyers Reducing Conflict.
Ambrose Bierce once said: “Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” Where there are lawyers, there is conflict and lawyers hired to resolve the conflict. It’s a tale as old as time.
New Year Challenge For Family Lawyers
It’s easy to throw your towel in as a lawyer and say, “I’m just doing my job!” But I challenge all family lawyers to go the extra step and THINK about what’s best for the client. Even though they may think they want a pitbull at that moment – someone to defend them as aggressively as possible, they truly just need a big sister/big brother to hear them out. To absorb some of the pain…and to help them move on. They think they want revenge. But truly, they don’t.
Strive for Client’s Best Interests
Recently, a stranger confided in me: “I went to a lawyer’s office. And I was a mess. Tears pouring down. I was not myself. I wanted the lawyer to make me feel better. And he said to me, Don’t worry – I’ll throw your husband in JAIL! For Contempt! I will report him to the State Bar! I’ll make sure he doesn’t live another day”.
She said to me, “Even though that’s what I wanted to hear at that moment, his rage and fury over my ex-husband cheating on me scared the heck out of me. I ended up hiring a lawyer who wasn’t like that.”
Clients, if your lawyer hates your ex more than you do, it’s time to run.
Don’t Label and Mislabel People You Don’t Know
It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of people’s personal lives. 2020 marks the 20th year of my family law practice. I’ve seen and shared in plenty of drama. It’s easy to “label” and “mislabel” the other side. I remember hearing “Maria’s” voice messages. She was evil! She was vindictive! Manipulative! It was so easy to write declarations against Maria when I didn’t know her. Aggressive and mean – big old bully lawyer I was.
Until a few months later, I met “Maria” at the settlement conference. And yes…they all end up at settlement conferences. No matter how much money you have thrown around ($100,000 or 1.2 million), all of these cases eventually end up around a table, when both people realize divorce isn’t about revenge and grow up. And the person you’ve been badmouthing is NOTHING like that. Maria was a gentle, soft soul who loved her children and who was reacting out of fear. She was someone I could have easily represented. But I was on the other side.
Stop Demonizing the Other Side
Stop demonizing the other side. Your client is NOT a victim. If you are a divorce attorney, you MUST know better. This emotional battle is NOT about you. Marriages fall apart every second of the day for various reasons. It’s none of your business. Your business is to help them restructure the family, to help them move on with as little pain as possible. Your business is to REDUCE conflict.
Divorce mediation movement is all about helping to reduce conflict. It’s true you need to know the law. These people are gonna need guidance. But it’s more than law. It’s emotional IQ.
This 2020, I challenge all family lawyers to help reduce conflict. Join the Divorce Mediation Movement.
I was so honored to be part of J. Craig Williams’ podcast. Please enjoy.