Last week members of the Collaborative Family Law Institute (CFLI), the Miami, Florida practice group, had the awesome opportunity to hear Collaborative attorney and MCT member Irene King of Charlotte, North Carolina tell her story of how she gave up family law litigation for alternative methods of helping clients achieve their divorce in a peaceful way. Her story is a very moving recall of how her parents divorce was the final straw that led her to giving up a thriving litigation practice.
My story is not quite as dramatic as hers, but it comes from my 30 years of working in the litigation arena as an expert witness. I have lots of stories from that career. Some are good but most are truly war stories. But the final straw came when I was representing a lovely 86-year-old woman. The marriage was a second marriage for both her and her husband. She came into the marriage with a substantial net worth and her husband’s worth dwarfed hers. Because of their age (the husband was a year older) the court divorced the couple immediately and separated the financial issues to a future trial.
Because both came into the marriage with wealth, the case was a bit complicated separating marital and non-marital assets. After about six months, the husband passed away. Shortly thereafter, my client, was placed in hospice care. At the trial, the wife was represented by her attorney, me and her 82-year-old brother. At the other table were two attorneys, a financial expert and three of the husband’s children. In the gallery were other family members of the husband. As the three-day trial progressed, the judge gave opinions and advice that allowed for settlement on certain issues. By the time we reached the end of the trial the only issue was the ownership of the family mausoleum. Enough was enough. I couldn’t do this anymore.
That was the straw that broke this camel’s back. Shortly thereafter I attended a full day seminar with Liz Ferris, one of the Collaborative world’s great marketing experts. The next day, I gave notice to my firm and began my full-time journey into the world of being a financial neutral in the Collaborative Process and other ways of settling family matters outside of the court process.
Tell us the story of your ah-ha moment. Write a blog or join us this Friday at Happy Hour and share what led to your conversion!