For about a year, I’ve been struggling to describe the kind of law I want to practice and the kinds of clients I most want to work with. Think I settled on the term “supportive family law.”
It’s been a confusing journey for me to figure it out, however. For one, figuring it out requires a deeper understanding of how I want to interact with my clients. Even back in law school, I figured it out that clients want more than just a “lawyer.” Very few lawyers I know share (or are even able to share) those deeper senses.
Second, the legal culture I’m in either emphasizes a fairly cold, analytical professionalism or aggressive, competitive advocacy. I dislike both these approaches. While I’m required to zealously advocate, it doesn’t mean I have to be aggressive.
Third, the lawyers I know (or know of) who I guess are probably somewhat similar to me tend to focus on a different procedural area of law, like mediation, or “Big C” collaborative practice. While they are probably similarly to me, the way they express it shows up as a procedural shift.
So it’s been a struggle because I have a sense of the way I want to work and how I want to show up, but I can’t find many role models.
Still, I’m sticking to my journey because I feel I’ve been uniquely helpful to my clients so far just by intuiting my way through this. The idea behind what I call “supportive family law” is that it shift the mindset and the day to day practice of lawyer to who is more client centered. And by “client centered,” I mean in the way that modern coaching practices use or the way Carl Rogers practiced therapy.
The emphasis is not on the advice, the law, the kids, or the money. While the lawyer is still bound by ethical practices, the emphasis is on the relationship itself between the lawyer and the client and the client’s family.
I know I need to say more about that, but I’ll save that for another post.