As a new year is upon us, I have had some time to reflect about my practice and new resolutions for the next year.
One of the things I have challenged myself to think about is how to reconcile the two seemingly disparate parts of my practice, namely, my highly litigious child protection practice and my settlement-oriented family law practice. Many of my clients and colleagues no doubt wonder how I can manage both practices without having a split personality.
My child protection practice involves frequently intense battles at court on behalf of vulnerable parents and children. The court work is so intense that I am sometimes at court 3 times a week arguing motions and setting down multi-day trials. The subject matter can be disturbing as it often involves allegations of neglect or abuse against children.
My family law practice, in contrast, is increasingly more and more settlement-oriented. I advise my clients upfront that court is not the panacea for their family law problems. I encourage settlement. My clients are, in general, wonderful people who I genuinely like, trying to figure out how to come to terms with a difficult situation and loss.
So why do I practice in both areas, and why am I committed to continuing to practice in both? Again and again, I circle back to a phrase that I stumbled across during my participation in the Settlement Clinic Workshop hosted by the awesome Deborah Graham. That phrase is: “New Chances”.
My love of both child protection work and settlement-oriented family law work is based on my belief that despite whatever has happened in the past, families and children deserve new chances to have the best family relationships they can have given the circumstances. In the child protection context, having a new chance means rehabilitation and hope for a future with family. In the family law context, having a new chance means collaboration and also hope for a future with family.
I hope that 2016 will bring me many more opportunities to help families have new chances at happiness and peace. Happy New Year everyone!