By Shawn Weber, FRI Co-founder
One of the greatest days of my life was when I decided to give up litigating.
Another great day was when I took status on my very last litigated divorce case. No longer do I need to ask a person in black robes for a day off. I call all of the shots in my work and LOVE it!
I litigated for years and found that while I was fairly good at it, the practice brought out the worst in me.
Before a trial, my family would notice my grumpiness. I seldom slept well and gained weight. Even when I “won,” it didn’t feel like a win. It was awful.
Finally things came to a head. I quit accepting litigation cases cold turkey. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary. It was terrifying! But once I made the commitment, there was never any going back.
Today, my practice is only about Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR – Also known as Consensual Dispute Resolution). I do mediation, Collaborative Practice, neutral settlement conferences and negotiated settlement. I’ll pretty much do any family law work as long as I don’t need to cross the threshold to the courtroom. At first, there was a real financial hit. With litigation, just a few cases could make my year. I needed more ADR cases to get the same revenue. But with some recalibrating, I started replacing the revenue out-of-court cases. Now, I’m making more money than I did before. Most importantly, I’M HAPPY!
With litigation, I always had a feeling I was doing more harm than good. Families suffer when people do their divorce at court. It’s not the court’s fault. It’s just that an adversarial system is really a poor way to resolve family issues. Peacemaking processes, however, make a difference for the better.
The Transformative Moment
I live for that “transformative moment” where warring spouses find a way forward. There’s no better high than getting into the world the people are experiencing, digging deep and finding pathways for settlement. To see family in crisis find a way to peace is the greatest feeling. Helping people protect their kids and pocketbook from conflict is so awesome I would do it for free! (The best part is people actually paying me for this awesomeness.)
So, do you feel trapped in a litigation career? Don’t worry. There’s a way out! If you are willing to try and take a leap of faith, you can declare your independence from litigation forever. Come on in! The water’s fine!