Last night I had the honor of being recognized by The Mediation Center of Coastal Georgia for having the highest settlement rate for domestic relations cases in 2018. 70% of my cases that were mediated at The Mediation Center resulted in settlements. Mediation is mandatory in Chatham County for contested family law cases in all but the rarest circumstances. That’s a lot of cases that did not require a trial to resolve. That’s a lot of cases that the parties decided to keep control of their future by coming to an agreement.
I am a trial lawyer by trade and by passion. I love going to trial. It is the crucible of attorneys and I find them complex, intricate, and incredibly interesting work to do. But that’s me. But for my clients, all of whom are in the midst of a family law case, trial is often a very terrible experience. Their private affairs – their marriage, their parenting choices, their intimate secrets – are splayed out for the world to bear witness to. Trials are adversarial. Trials result in things said by someone they were once closer to anyone in the world that can never be unsaid, a bell that has been rung that cannot be unrung. And at the end, a complete stranger, the Judge, decides these most intimate, private decisions for their family – who gets what, how much it will cost, and what is going to happen with the children. So while trial might be good for me, it is bad for most of my clients.
My families are far better served by reaching the resolution of their family law case through mediation. A mediated agreement means both parties had some say in sculpting the outcome of their litigation. A Judge didn’t make the decisions for them (nor does the neutral mediator). Parents have decided how their children will be raised and how they share time with each other. Spouses decide how their property, their debts, and their money gets divided. And speaking of money, they spend far less by resolving their case at mediation than at trial, often times saving 50% or more.
I’ll say it. I am immensely proud of this award. It is the second year in a row I have won it, and quite frankly, someone is going to have to wrest it away from me next year. My clients, those families, are so much better off having resolved their case through mediation than through trial. Receiving an award for settling more cases for my clients is an award I will proudly wear every time.
Our clients’ best case scenario is not to burn bridges, but to offer the other side an olive branch, to achieve a peaceful resolution that works for all parties. That is a core value of our Firm, and I am proud to be a part of it.
Here’s to my clients maintaining control of their own lives and resolving their issues amicably in 2019!