Thursday, July 19, 2012
Can I Help?
Every month, I work as a domestic relations facilitator for our local circuit court. What that means it that I go to the courthouse when the family division holds its scheduling hearings, and the domestic relations masters send cases with issues they think can be settled fairly quickly up to me to mediate. That way, the case gets off the court's docket, which is already overcrowded, and the parties to the case don't have to come back to court. When it works, it's a win-win. I'm not the only one who facilitates: there are about thirty or so of us family law attorneys who do it on a regular basis. We don't do it for the money - the court pays us very little per case, and if you polled us, most of us would say we'd do it for nothing. We facilitate for lots of reasons, some altruistic and some not. We do it to hone our mediation skills, we do it to help people, we do it to feel good about solving a problem (or problems), and we do it to keep our faces known at the courthouse. We also deal with lots of interesting situations. Sometimes, we show up to facilitate and have no customers. Sometimes, we have enough cases to keep us busy all day. We've had to throw our bodies between angry litigants (no mean feat for someone as tiny as I), and call the sheriffs. We've also gotten to help people who are feeling really shamed name the reason, receive compassion and achieve catharsis. It's amazing work and brings with it a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It's a bonus I enjoy - here in the Trenches.