Be a Positive Force in the Midst of Anger and Fear
It’s the end of the world…as we know it.
I survived Oklahoma 2011.
Thanks to blizzards, tornadoes, droughts, and earthquakes (oh, and a top-ranked divorce
rate), “I survived” t-shirts were a big hit in O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A this past fall.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, I’m sure you’ve heard that
December 21, 2012 has been interpreted as the end of the world, referred to as the “2012
Phenomenon” on Wikipedia. I hope Nostradamus is right – at least in the R.E.M. sense of
“It’s the end of the world AS WE KNOW IT (and I feel fine).”
A quick read down my Twitter stream tells me the world is full of people who are angry,
hurt, and afraid. I turn the news on and I see more pain and confusion. The uplifting
“feel good” stories often shared in public media tend to feel trite and empty.
I know there is amazing goodness in the world, we get glimpses now and then, but I’m ready
to see more of it. The world as we know it is skewed negative and shallow. And I’m ready
for that to end.
So what about divorce attorneys? Their job is to help people navigate a process that
emanates from a relationship gone bad. Outside that client-driven process, there are
family law attorneys, men and women, who deal with too many (or too few) cases, unpaid client fees,
challenging colleagues, massive student loans, and a saturated market in which “attorney”
is often the subject of a poor-tasting joke.
How can you find hope and goodness in the field of family law where clients reach out to
you because they are angry, hurt, confused, and afraid? Clients seek your services
because they feel they have no other choice, but may be distrusting and skeptical because
they’ve been failed by so many systems, so many times before. What about all the people
who wish they were your clients, but won’t even inquire about their needs because they
know they can’t afford you?
How do you remain healthy, productive, and compassionate in the midst of chaos and
I suggest you frequently recenter or recalibrate your sense of purpose and well-being.
Practical ways of doing this can be found throughout the ADR Blogs found on the Winter Garden
Family Law Firm of Grossman & Grossman, P.A.
Remember why you chose family law as your practice area. What is it about helping a
family that gets you out of bed every morning? Do you ever feel pangs of overwhelming
contentment? Do you have moments when you feel that you are exactly where you should be,
doing exactly what you should be doing? Do you ever feel those moments so strongly that
it almost hurts?
Collegial wisdom and advice about how to handle specific client issues or litigation
challenges are helpful from a process perspective. But it all begins with you. Think about
your role in the divorce process in terms of client outcomes, but also your own outcomes. Helping
people is important – it’s the reason you signed up for this gig.
But you must nest your desire to help others within the greater context of your life. We
frequently talk about helping our clients gain perspective about their relationships and
experiences. While you are helping your clients become more insightful and contemplative
- better versions of themselves – remain mindful of your own evolution as a family law attorney,
as a professional, and as a person.
If 2012 will be the end of the world as we know it, how will you know the world, and your
role within it, in 2013?
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Amanda Williams, M.S. is a researcher and instructor of Human Development and Family Science at
Oklahoma State University where she is pursuing her PhD in HDFS.