Friday, December 31, 2010

My Parents

      Today is my parents' 51st anniversary.  I don't believe they think being married this long is any amazing feat, but given what I do for a living,  I think it's awesome.  Having observed them for some 50 years, however, I think there are a few things they do that have helped the longevity of their relationship:

  1. They touch often.
  2. They accept each other for who they are.
  3. They gloss over the small annoyances.
  4. They take turns being in the spotlight, so that they can each be fully present to support the other.
  5. They don't take each other for granted.
  6. They share common interests but also have interests that belong to each of them alone.
Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.  Happy New Year to all of you.  I hope the new year finds you peace and joy in yourself and in your relationships.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Thanks

The family law attorney is the centerpiece of a family law practice.  Much as most of hate to admit it, however, we are by no means the most important part.  That honor goes to the support staff:  the paralegals, secretaries, receptionists and other administrative staff who interact with the clients on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  Most of these folks have been doing what they do longer than the attorneys for whom they work have been lawyers.  They usually have no formal training in psychology,  and they certainly didn't sign up, at least initially, to obtain information from the emotionally overwrought, calm the irate, nag the recalcitrant, and provide a reality check to the unrealistic, all of this on top of riding herd on the attorneys for whom they work.  They are part psychologist, part mother hen, part nagging spouse, part cheerleader, and part walking calendar.  Without these hard-working folks, most family law practices would spiral out of control.  They receive little credit for all they do, and in some offices (not mine), they take the blame for what goes wrong.  I, for one, don't know what I'd do without the dedicated people who support my practice.  I do know that I wouldn't do any of it nearly as well.  In this season of thanks and gratitude, I'd just like to say:

Thank you, Chrystal and Erin for all you do to make me look good and keep our clients happy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day Two of Christmas Vacation

Second day of vacation, home for the holidays with my family.   
Am I relaxed yet?  No, but getting there.  
I figure that by tomorrow, I will actually feel like I'm away from work.
Today helped a lot.  Put up the Christmas tree, wrapped the presents, arranged all of Mom's music boxes,  and watched daughter arrange gifts under the tree.  
Family and traditions are so much a part of who I am, what I do and how I do it.
Thanks to my family for the grounding and the recharge.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why can't my lawyer be more like my therapist?

Today's professional comparison is - therapists.  Clients dump all of their emotional issues in the lap of their therapists; they do the same to their family law attorneys.  So, why do I need a therapist and my therapist does not?  It's a one word answer :


It's really not cost, because therapist hourly charges can be as much as a lawyer's, and their hour is only 50 minutes.  I don't expect my therapist to solve my problems; I expect my therapist to help me solve my problems.  It's an important distinction, and one that most patients understand.  I expect my clients to make the same distinction, but so many don't.  No matter how much groundwork is laid, no matter how many times the client is reminded that it's their life and therefore their decision, no matter how much information and guidance is given, a surprisingly large number of clients want their lawyer to make the decisions for them.   Most of these folks don't want information and advice so they can make their own decisions concerning their families.  They want their family law attorney to tell them how many overnights their children should spend with each parent, what holidays the children should spend with them, what activities their children should do after school, how they should divide their money and what they should pay to whom.  The reason?


Many clients don't seem to want it.  If they have it, who will they blame when things don't go as planned, when what they thought was a good idea turns out not to be one?  It still doesn't answer the question of why these same clients don't blame their therapists for the changes they help them to make.  It also doesn't answer the even bigger question about why family law attorneys let this client attitude affect us so much that we need therapy, while therapists generally don't.  Don't even get me started on the clients who ask for your professional advice and then refuse to follow it, and argue with you over its wisdom, and then when it all blows up in their face, blame the lawyer for their predicament.  I think I should explore this with my therapist.....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cookie Deliveries - MoCo Version

Four days to bake, less than two hours to deliver.  Christmas cookies are now history.  Lest you thought I was exaggerating when I blathered on talked about the holidays being tough in the family law world, you should have seen the faces of the Judges' secretaries and staff when we delivered cookies today.  You could feel the tension in the air when they buzzed us in, saw the fear in their faces,......and then the relief, followed very closely by pleasure when they saw the cookies.  Not only is it Christmas week, but it is also a full moon:  what a double whammy!

Turned out there were no emergencies - yet.  Still four days to go, though....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One more day....

until I am gone for the holidays.  Still up in the air whether they'll be one, two or no holiday custody emergencies.  This is still better than the year my client's husband threatened to drive through the living room window, and another client's boyfriend and her soon to be ex-husband chest butted at the son's school holiday program.

Did I mention I still love Christmas?  Go figure.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Cookie Weekend, Part Deux

It's finally here!
The big Christmas Cookie weekend.
Tiring, yes, but so much better than this week at work.
Besides, daughter and boyfriend are back from college, so I not only get to see them,
but I get help with cookies too.

I don't know about everyone else, but I hate work weeks spent putting out fires.
It' s so busy, but you don't actually get anything done because you're
so busy creating fire breaks.
Then when the blaze is contained, you're way too tired to do anything else.
How do firefighters do this for a living?  No wonder they have so many stress related illnesses.
I wonder how they compare to family law attorneys?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Everything I know about successful relationships, I learned from my dogs

Really? Yes, really.  Humans may be more complex creatures, but when it comes to relationships, I'm not sure that's better.  Think about it.  Dogs are pack animals.  There is always an Alpha dog, the one in charge.  Everyone knows who that is, there's no need to announce it, no need to pound the chest.  The Alpha isn't usually pushy about it, not in my house anyway.  She doesn't assert herself unless she needs to, and she doesn't need to unless someone misbehaves.  Then, she corrects the behavior and the pack continues humming along.  No assumptions of bad motives or evil thinking - she just addresses the behavior and it's done.  She's quite secure with herself and with her standing in the pack, and so is the pack.

My Alpha girl has a boyfriend.  He thinks she walks on water.  She thinks he's pretty cute.  Do they get on each other's nerves?  Heck, yes.  After all, he's 5 years younger than her and pretty active.  You know, sometimes he's just plain annoying.  Do they get jealous of each other?  Sure.  Heaven help the human who pets one of them more than the other.

Watch them for a while, though, and what you see is a pretty great relationship.  He's too rambunctious, she tells him, then goes off to be alone;  he lets her.  They never stay mad for long.  They play, and sometimes she wins, sometimes she lets him win.  They take turns on the couch.  They look out for each other.  They nuzzle each other, they curl up together, they make sure they both get some of the food they manage to sneak off the table.  All in all, they're pretty happy.  Kind of amazing, when you figure they didn't choose to be together, we chose it for them.  Soooooooo, why do humans who do choose to be with each other have so much trouble getting along?  Is that what being more evolved means?  Maybe that's not such a great thing......

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Have a Strained Relationship With Christmas

(Sung to the tune of "Silver Bells")

Emergency motions, frivolous pleadings
Filed on December 24,
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas.
Mothers yelling, fathers cursing,
Children scared and confused,
and from every divorce lawyer you hear,

Days from Hell, Days from Hell,
It's Christmas time in the courtroom.
Run to court, you know the sort,
Soon it will be Christmas Day.

Last minute filings,
False accusations,
Saying the other parent's unfit.
The children hear what they're saying.

Mom says, "It's my year,
Have no fear
My kids will be with me Christmas Day."

Days from Hell, Days from Hell,
It's Christmas time in the courtroom.
Run to court, you know the sort,
Soon it will be Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If it's Tuesday,...

No, it's not Belgium.  Wish it were.  Instead, it's a week until Christmas.  The dread joy has been building in the office for weeks.  You can feel a tough Christmas a mile away.  It's kind of eerie how accurate is the feeling.  So, any guesses on how many emergency custody motions will be filed between now and December 25th?  At least one...