Tonight's post is written by the attorney heading up our Savannah office,
For many people, going through a divorce or custody battle represents one
of the unhappiest parts of their lives. Unfortunately, many family law
attorneys do little to alter that by taking scorched earth approaches
to their clients' family law situations. While I don't intend
to sugar-coat what can be a very stressful period of time, I do spend
time thinking about how I approach my practice and how I can best ease
at least some of the stress and unhappiness.
I recently finished Tony Hsieh's book Delivering Happiness: A Path
to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. While the book largely discusses the
company growth and success of Hsieh's company, Zappos, central to
that success, and thus the book, is the concept of happiness. Hsieh discusses
several "happiness frameworks". One framework particularly stuck
with me as it resonates both personally and professionally and thought
I would share it with our blog readers. (Hsieh's own website for the
book, www.deliveringhappiness.com expressly permits sharing Hsieh's
philosophies and being a happiness ambassador!).
This "happiness framework" consists of 4 areas: (1) Perceived
Control, (2) Perceived Progress, (3) Connectedness (meaning quantity and
depth of relationships), and (4) Vision or Meaning (being a part of something
bigger than yourself).
Our approach to family law actually addresses this framework, though certainly
did so long before I read this book. As I considered Hsieh's framework,
I thought about how it not only matched how I personally define happiness
in my own life; but how our approach to the practice of family law addresses
all four aspects of this framework. I also thought how most of the complaints
I hear about attorneys are directly related to deficiencies in the attorney-client
relationship in one or more of the aspects of this framework.
Perceived Control: Our clients have control over what is done in their
case. There are many tools available to litigate a family law case. Some
cases require specific tools to be utilized, while other tools may be
helpful but not necessary. Rather than run a bill up for the sake of using
all of the tools, we discuss each tool with the client, how much it is
expected to cost, and what benefits may come from using it. For example,
depositions can be incredibly helpful to a case's development, but
they may not be essential to all cases. They may not even be helpful to
most cases. Our clients have extraordinary control over their case and
how their money is spent when it comes to utilizing tools that aren't
absolutely necessary. It is my hope that our clients feel that they have
a say in how their expenses are managed by their firm.
Perceived Progress: No one likes investing money into something and not
feeling like anything is happening with that investment. Retaining a lawyer
to handle a family law matter is no different. While the wheels of justice
can turn slowly and efficiency is sometimes well beyond our control, we
do keep our clients apprised of their case throughout the process. It
is my hope that our clients never feel that they have been forgotten nor
are surprised when something occurs in their case.
Connectedness: Our clients stay in contact with the attorney and paralegal
assigned to their case. Even more impressive, we have an exceptional Client
Care Coordinator named Martha who guides potential clients through the
process and is constantly accessible to our existing clients. It is my
hope that our clients never feel out of touch with our Firm and never
feel as if they do not know what is going on in their family law case.
Vision/Meaning: I think this aspect of the Framework is really where our
Firm shines brightest - being a part of something bigger than yourself.
For our team, it means being able to reach across Georgia as well as internationally
to be able to help families. More importantly, it means helping our clients
get adjusted to their new family dynamic, whatever it may be, and to help
them as they move on with their lives when our work is done. Our Firm
has a collective wealth of experience in Family Law that cannot be matched
and we are able to harness that experience to handle cases from the local
county courthouse all the way to wins in the United States Supreme Court.
It is my hope that our clients feel that they are working towards the
bigger picture of a new family dynamic and not just whatever phase in
the litigation process they are in at any given time.
While I don't think that there is any one thing that can magically
change a stressful situation in someone's life into true happiness,
I strive to find ways to make sure that I am not adding needlessly to
that stress. It's this approach to our practice that makes us the
right fit for many people who are looking for a family lawyer.
P.S. - One other interesting tidbit from Hsieh's book: He discusses
a study of lottery winners' level of happiness. They found that almost
all of the people in the study's happiness levels were the same or
actually lower a year after winning the lottery then where those levels
were just before winning the lottery, adding to the age-old adage that
money cannot buy happiness. Happiness isn't something external. Happiness
seems to be something you pack around with you wherever you go.
May you take happiness with you, wherever you go.