It wasn’t so long ago we thought of the family attorney as someone who is supposed to “win” for his or her client. Though L.A. Law’s Arnie Becker was a fictional character meant to be a little larger than life, he fit the public’s expectations of a “pit bull” divorce lawyer. To be a good family attorney in that mold, you have to go after the other side relentlessly, destroy them, and then take the spoils of war when you’re done.
But times have changed since L.A. Law was a hit TV show in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. I believe that most people don’t want to turn divorce proceedings into a search and destroy mission. I see more and more people seeking alternatives to court – only hiring a single attorney to serve as a mediator, or, in some cases, opting to go it alone without legal advise.
That’s why I’ve become a different kind of family lawyer from an Arnie Becker. Ten years ago, I decided there had to be a better way to go about divorce than fighting in court. I sought out training as a Collaborative lawyer, seeing that as a viable alternative to litigation, with a number of things in its favor. I also decided to become a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, because for some divorcing couples, mediation is the best route for them to take. I wanted my clients to have options, but I recently determined that litigation would not be one of the options that I would provide to my clients. There are just too many negative aspects of litigating a family case to justify me doing that to a client and his or her family.
Though I’m an attorney, I prefer to think of myself as a peacemaker. My goal is to get my clients through the difficult process of divorce as quickly as possible, with the best possible outcome for everyone involved. I’m not interested in fighting opposing counsel or dragging out legal proceedings in order to rack up legal bills that might have to be written off in the end. If a couple can get through their issues with just a few meetings, I’m happy to facilitate that. And if a couple decides that they don’t want to divorce after all, that’s even better from a peacemaker’s perspective.
As a peacemaker, I can’t guaranty that it will be an easy road to resolve the issues in a divorce, and I don’t profess to be able cure the ills of a client’s family. But I’m committed to sending a family off in a better direction than when they first come to see me, and I am committed not to take them through divorce court to get there.