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Tales of the Family Law Lawyer, Chapter One

Family Law is a calling.  Just like the ministry, no one should ever practice family law unless they are quite sure that they have been called to that practice.

And like being called to the ministry, there is a Garden of Gethsemane sense of "If it be thy will, let this cup pass before me."  Of course, then the answer comes back. "My will is that you practice family law."

The practice of family law is a calling because, practiced correctly, it is incredibly stressful, incredibly challenging but also incredibly rewarding. The skills, sensitivity, passion and care required of the practitioner are unmatched in any other legal practice.  Just ask those attorneys who have tried it and swear, "never again."

But, there are a multitude of attorneys who handle family law cases who are not called, who do not feel the duty, who neither appreciate nor respect the gravity of the issues and the worth of the people involved.  "It's not my kid, what do I care," is their attitude.

Some of these attorneys dabble, do family law part time while they practice in other arenas.  You can automatically tell they aren't serious.  You should automatically run out of their doors.

But others who are not called actually practice family law full time.  They see it as a blood sport like a bull in a china shop or a casual golf outing, just phoning it in. They have neither interest in nor aptitude for the complexity and depth of the relationships that make up families.  To them, it's just an easy way to make a good living.

How can you know the called family law attorney?  For one, they're nuts!  Who else would sign on to such stress, such complexity, such angst from all sides. The family law attorney is the heart surgeon of the legal world.

You know the called attorney by how they comport themselves.  Are they aware of and interested in the qualities and intricacies of the whole family?  

Do they keep your focus on trying to achieve a settlement because that is almost always better for the family?  

Do they care about you?  

If you are in crisis, are they accessible to you?

Do they help you listen to your better angels?  

Do they sound like the voice of reason or are they preaching hell fire and brimstone (the bull) or perhaps just asking you what you want to do (the golfer)?

When they counsel you, do they counsel for peace or press for war?

Moving on in your relationship is a matter of personal growth.  Your family law attorney should not only be mindful of that, but thatt should be the bedrock of everything they do.

It's legal.  It's spiritual. It's a blessing.  It's what we do.

Michael Manely

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