Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Enough About Good Divorce Lawyers- Where are the Good Mediators?

There are about ten zillion articles and posts on how to hire a good divorce lawyer.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.  Are they telling you anything you don't know?  No. Are they helpful?  Many of them are, if you actually follow them.  Of course, most people hire someone who acts like they do, or acts they way they think a divorce lawyer should act. Or they hire the lawyer who represented their friend, family member or someone who was in the news.

In my travels on the Internet, I've seen a lot fewer posts on how to hire a good mediator. Caveat: I don't really like the mediation model.  I don't think it works for most people, and I have yet to meet a mediator I think has done a first-rate job, although I know they're out there.  (The AAML has a mediation group, so I'd look there, first and foremost, for the training, the skills and the knowledge base.)

I read a frustrated comment on Huff Post Divorce on this topic (in response to this post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-jones/how-to-hire-the-wrong-div_b_778906.html), to which I made the following brief reply:

"The role of divorce mediators is to find a meeting point, or common ground, to resolve differences (not to bring people together for the purpose of reconciliation, although that can happen when a couple sees that they CAN indeed work things out).

I think you need look for a few things when looking for a good mediator. First, you should feel financially comfortable - if the mediator demands money first, before even seeing you, I'd say, thanks but no thanks. Second, I'd suggest staying clear of mental health pros who work as mediators - you don't want a therapist, you want someone who knows the law, the court system, and the ins and outs of the local legal scene. Last, you need someone who can pass the proverbial 'smell test- you want a mediator who is a smart, honest, strong, forthright, experienced agenda-free professional. A good mediator isn't going to take sides, drag out the mediation, allow one side to abuse the mediation process, or be incapable of drafting your separation agreement.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Top Ten "Must Knows" for Divorced Dads

Very nicely put, Joel! If both sides of the equation (i.e., divorced moms as well as dads) paid more than lip service to your top ten list, I think we'd see far fewer claims of parental alienation and far greater numbers of happy kids and parents.

The crucial thread that runs throughout your post is that a non-custodial parent NEVER just 'visits' with his/her child - unless s/he's doing time in jail :
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Death This Time, Not Divorce!!!!!!!!!!!

I just found out this afternoon that a short story I'd written last March and submitted to a writing contest has been selected as one of twelve short stories (out of 900 submissions) to be published in an anthology themed around 'Memory.'

I am feeling soooooooooooo cooooooooooool!  My first piece of published fiction!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!

The story, entitled 'Somerset,' is an unsentimental study of a dying woman who ponders what her obituary should say.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/42709616/Somerset-Monadnock-Anthology

Oh, stop!  It's not  that depressing! Besides, death and divorce are two of my favorite topics (along with destruction, greed and lust!!!)   :<)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Worthless Lawyers

I find this absolutely irresistible - It's from the fabulous blog of the inimitable JD Hull (http://www.whataboutclients.com/ ):

The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers.

"Ernie from Glen Burnie", not his real name, is an unreliable but wise childhood friend of mine who likes the works of Hunter Thompson. EFGB is now a partner at a Washington, DC law firm. For years he has claimed that the following--by an unknown and long-dead lawyer, and dated 1836--was discovered during the 1980s in the ruins of an old Episcopal church in a northern Virginia town near our native DC. I would believe EFGB--except that I doubt that the word "weenie" was much in style in the antebellum American south:
1. Be risk-averse at all times. Clients have come to expect this from their lawyers. It's tradition. Honor it.

2. Tell the client only what it can't do. Business clients are run by business people who take risks. They need to be managed, guided, stopped. Don't encourage them.
3. Whatever you do, don't take a stand, and don't make a recommendation. (You don't want to be wrong, do you?)
4. Treat the client as a potential adversary at all times. Keep a distance.
5. Cover yourself. Write a lot to the client. Craft lots of confirming letters which use clauses like "it is our understanding", "our analysis is limited to..." and "we do not express an opinion as to whether..."
6. Churn up extra fees with extra letters and memoranda and tasks. Milk the engagement. (If you are going to be a weenie anyway, you might as well be a sneaky weenie.)
7. As out-house counsel, you are American royalty. Never forget that. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

On Being A Hardass

I've been giving this some thought over the past, say, 20 years or so.

It's very unpleasant to be on the receiving end of some testosterone-laden (male or female, doesn't matter), froth-at-the-mouth, belly-jutting jerk who never EVER lets anyone else get a word in edgewise, never EVER wants to talk settlement unless it's a total surrender, and never EVER has anything but the utmost contempt and abuse for you.

On the other hand, sometimes I've found I can be a hardass without (I think) being totally unreasonable.  Taking a tough negotiating stance can  psych out my adversary.  Having the time, energy, money, reputation, power and  resources to back up a hardline position - even when it's unreasonable - can lead to (perhaps undeserving) good results. And sometimes, being a hardass is the only option.  Like when the other side is so irrational that it would be impossible to cave, let alone meet half-way, without marching into quicksand.

But being a hardass is so energy-consuming - Lord, it's exhausting!  And apart from being so draining, who the hell wants to look in the mirror and see the person you usually loathe staring right back at you, looking just like you? It's unnerving.  And the effect on the people around you?  OK, some people LIKE hardasses. They seek them out for any number of reasons.  For the most part, though, normal people would prefer to spend their time not being embarrassed and not being stressed out by being around such hyper-aggressiveness.

So, I wonder, is it really worth it to be 'tough', despite the potentially good result?

Notice this post isn't addressing the idea of only LAWYERS as being hardasses. No, I'm talking about hardasses in general.   Because sometimes, the biggest hardass of all isn't a lawyer. It's the lady calling from Customer Service who won't give you her direct extension, the State Trooper who pulls you over for going seven miles over the speed limit, the Customs Officer who rips apart your suitcase, the sanitation worker who refuses to remove your leaf bags, the guy behind the counter going on his break so the other check-out line has twenty people waiting -- you get the idea.

Fine, yeah, sometimes it's the lawyers.

Which brings me around to my favorite expression: If people weren't a**h***s, they wouldn't need lawyers (I made that one up a while ago).   Something to ponder the next time someone makes another bad lawyer joke.

Bottom line: Plenty of hardasses from all walks of life to go around.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why Doesn’t She Just Leave Him?

Why Doesn’t She Just Leave Him?

My new friend Allison Leotta, a DC sex crimes prosecutor, has just had her debut novel published, entitled "Law of Attraction". http://allisonleotta.com/blog/?p=84#comment-73 It is already garnering rave reviews and she is being compared to Lisa Scottolini and Linda Fairstein!

I have just downloaded this book on my Kindle and can't wait to read it. Here's to the lawyer/writers of the world who have fabulous insights to share, and excellent writing skills that make their insights entertaining, accessible and credible!!

I'm Not The Only One Off-Line

My friends @ divorcesaloon.com took a hiatus, as did champion blogger David Mott @ dadshouse.com  Unplugged and Offline

So I feel a little less guilty.

Busy writing, sorry! ...

Been busy busy busy writing....

Thanks everybody - I'll rejoin the human race soon, I promise!