When I opened my first law practice in 2001, I had just spent three years prosecuting criminal cases in the Union County District Attorney’s Office. While I was trained in the courtroom and find a sense of comfort there, I quickly learned that trying cases is not always best for my client, even when they “won.” My first family law case was very contentious. The parents hated each other and wouldn’t agree on anything. They spent the better part of two years in court battling. They were involved in a long grueling custody trial. My client won. But during the two years that the parents were fighting, their son was getting older. His parents were so consumed and preoccupied in their legal battle with each other, they took their eyes off the prize. Several years later I walked into juvenile delinquency court and saw my former client and her ex-husband standing with their son as he was being sentenced for drug charges.
I have evolved as family law attorney. I used to think that trying a case, even for the most skilled trial attorney, was harder than settling a case. Trials are difficult. They require a lot of skill, knowledge, and preparation. A good trial attorney must be familiar with the rules of evidence and rules of court, in addition to the relevant law for the matter before the court. On top of all that, a good attorney must manage client expectations for trial, prepare the client for trial, and prepare exhibits and additional witnesses. Settling a case can be equally hard, especially when addressing issues outside the norms of what a judge can do. When you go to court, you get what the judge says you get. When you settle, you have control of the outcome. You have more leeway and the ability to do things differently than a judge. What might be very important to a client may be irrelevant to the court. It can be frustrating for a client to spend the time, money and emotional toll on a trial, and come out feeling that they were never heard. Most attorneys will attempt to settle a case, but not all have the patience or are willing to take the time to truly listen and attempt to resolve the case for their client when extensive negotiation is required.
I have set out to be the very best I can in my profession for my clients. This led me to being certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a family law specialist (https://www.nclawspecialists.gov/for-the-public/the-benefit-of-hiring-a-specialist), being certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission as a family financial mediator, and becoming a member of the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals. Both the certifications and the collaborative group require additional annual training and continuing legal education above and beyond the North Carolina State Bar requirements. My clients can be assured that I have the knowledge, experience, and credentials to guide them through one of the most difficult times in their life. Most importantly, my clients know I care.
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