The shifts in our economy in recent years have brought new and old pressures to the surface in family law cases: substance abuse, and numerous forms of compulsive/addictive behaviors and an increasingly large number of adults and children suffering from a host of complex mental health issues create significant challenges in day to day case management. We need to deal effectively with all of these issues.
Child and spousal support/alimony issues are even more challenging due to the economic downturn and its direct impact on people's earnings and earning capacities. In the equitable distribution arena, today's economic climate makes accurately valuing businesses, real estate, stock and other portfolios even more complex than in the past. It is more costly and riskier to set up a separate/second home. We are seeing more people living separately under the same roof and/or operating under a "nesting" arrangement in which young children stay in the marital home, and the parents share time that coincides with their respective parenting schedules in the children's residence. Such arrangements can work - up to a certain point.
I knew that Family Law was the right practice area for me. I knew my interest in psychology, litigation and my overall temperament, were a good fit for this area of the law. I am a non-judgmental person, I do not jump to conclusions or judge clients or their decisions. These attributes are important as we address issues that are extremely personal, sensitive and complex. I also relate well with people from a variety of backgrounds and income levels. I am as passionate and dedicated to my pro bono clients as I am to my clients who are in the highest income brackets. Fairness and access to skilled representation are important to me. Giving back by doing pro bono work and acting as a mentor to newer family law attorneys is satisfying to me and of course helps aid in my own growth.
I've been very fortunate - I've had some great mentors. Bob Whitelaw set an excellent example and to this day I'd say we have real similarities in the way we practice.
I was certain I did not want to sit behind a desk all day without client interaction and personal connection. I knew as a family lawyer I wouldn't have that problem. I discovered right away that I am helping people in a direct and immediate way. I have found an area of the law that I am passionate about and successful in. When you can have a positive impact on people's lives, that's rewarding and fulfilling.
Even with the most skillful advance planning with pre and post marital agreements of which I am a huge proponent, I know that certain relationships require separation or end in dissolution. But that doesn't mean that my clients and their children can't remain emotionally intact. This field and my profession are about people, and that has to stay at the forefront.