Lowering My Hourly Rate by Attorney Joryn Jenkins

Here is a real testament to the value of Collaborative divorce from a divorce trial attorney who has seen more of the negative side to court divorce than an any non lawyer could ever see.

If you are facing divorce, a few minutes reading this opinion piece by divorce trial attorney Joryn Jenkins could have a very positive effect on you your children and their other parent for many years into the future:

Lowering My Hourly Rate

by Attorney Joryn Jenkins of the Florida Bar
How many of us lawyers can afford our own services? My husband and I retained a Miami lawyer over a dozen years ago, at the stunning hourly rate of $600. To this day, that amount still outrages me.

I went to Yale University when I was 16 years old, graduated when I was 19, and then attended Georgetown Law, where I achieved not only a position on an ABA-published law review, but a leadership position as Lead Articles Editor.

Once I passed the bar exam, I regularly chalked up significant victories in my relentless efforts to “make new law.” In the early ‘80s, in my first jury trial, I obtained the fastest guilty verdict ever in Hillsborough County history; my DUI jury found a man guilty of driving under the influence in six and a half minutes. I tried just one murder case while I was at the State Attorney’s Office and put the defendant on death row.

Once I was in civil practice, in 1989, I established that a grocery store employee who had suffered from employment discrimination because of her insistence on serving her federal jury duty was entitled to a trial by a jury of her peers.

In 1990, long before the confidentiality protections now afforded all medical records, I proved that a newspaper reporter could not access the involuntary placement hearing record of a mentally ill patient.

I later convinced the Florida Supreme Court that the defendant’s right to the time bar defense is a property right that vests when the limitations period then applicable to the cause of action in question runs. In other words, the Court found the statute I had challenged unconstitutional and struck it down.

I’ve been in practice for 35 years, and have established a reputation as a highly respected trial lawyer. All of which is to say that my hourly rate is not unreasonable. In fact, it’s long past time for me to raise it, yet I’m considering doing the reverse. Why?

For our clients, collaborative and other courtless divorce process alternatives beat out traditional courtroom divorce every time; they take less time, they cost less money, and the clients make the decisions, not some judge who doesn’t know them or their kids, or who, more importantly, doesn’t necessarily share their values, And collaborative divorce, at least, protects their relationships with the people they love… even, perhaps paradoxically, with each other.

But collaborative practice also beats out the courtroom divorce process for us lawyers. Why? Because the stress caused to our clients by being swept up in the judicial system is reflected directly into us. So we do not just suffer from the everyday stress of being a trial attorney, but we also experience the additional anxiety induced by our naturally empathetic natures.

On the other hand, the mystical magic I see conjured by my collaborative teams sends me home every night in an enchanted euphoria that is unmatched by even the most astonishing courtroom win.

The collaborative process taught a woman how to communicate her need for her husband’s participation in the process of educating their son, and enabled him to share the joy of participating in that process with her, long after their marital relationship had died.

The collaborative process permitted a man to confess a secret that he had held so close to his vest for five years that it had nearly suffocated him; it enabled his wife to understand and to forgive him for what she initially perceived as his treacherous failure to share it with her.

The collaborative process enabled a man to understand his wife’s need for an apology from him for something he did not do, and helped her to accept the honesty of that apology when he offered it and to then move on.

The collaborative process helped a woman to appreciate her husband’s need for closure, and enabled her to craft a ceremony that afforded him that, but also that honored his contributions to their marriage and his continuing role as their daughter’s father.

I see this magic take place in nearly every one of my collaborative cases.

Please do not misunderstand me; I do not see divorcing couples “reconciling.” But they do fix problems that may have caused their rift, as well as problems that have arisen during their rift. They do repair their broken relationships.

The consequent reduction of stress in my practice, coupled with the joy I take in participating in collaborative divorce cases, convinces me that I should lower my hourly rate for collaborative divorce cases. Perhaps when I mention this to my consults, they will more seriously consider the collaborative process option.

This article was originally posted by Attorney Jenkins on her website’s blog at Lowering My Hourly Rate

Must Reads for Divorcing Couples by Susan Lillis, Attorney at Law

My colleague, Susan Lillis from Ipswich, has compiled an invaluable list of “readings” in response to often asked questions. Please take the time to check out her fine work. Her office is located

Ipswich River Place
4 South Main St., Suite 9,
Ipswich, MA 01938

 
article-0-05707195000005DC-856_468x309It’s been said that nothing can prepare you for divorce. Emotionally that can be true. From a practical standpoint, you can prepare yourself for the type of divorce you want and what you might expect after making that choice. That’s why in addition to filling out questionnaires, I send my prospective clients to my blog before meeting with them.While I try to make all articles on the blog relevant for divorcing couples, some offer that “what to expect” element better than others. Those articles are as follows:Is there a type of person who shouldn’t use collaborative divorce or divorce mediation? – The title is self-explanatory. There are certain personality types for whom collaborative divorce or mediation are not the right options. This article reinforces the expectations for when you take part in either collaborative divorce or divorce mediation.Read the articleSetting the boundaries for a smooth divorce – Again, this article is of the “what you can expect” variety. It also highlights some of the ways you can avoid negotiations from becoming contentious.Read the article

A guaranteed way to reduce your lawyer bill – In a divorce, time is money. Specifically, your attorney’s time is money. Divorces where parties do not have all their financial statements and other paperwork prepared will typically result in more hours for the attorney, resulting in a larger legal bill.

Read the article

5 common missteps in mediation – Perhaps the first paragraph of this article says it best, “In mediation, there’s an overall assumption that both parties are reasonable and are willing to work together to reach an agreement. In addition, it is not uncommon for at least one of the spouses to be anxious to get through the mediation in order to put the divorce behind him or her. This can sometimes lead spouses to assume that some that details of the mediation agreement do not require a high level of attention, or that if something important comes up later they will be able to discuss it with their ex spouse and come to a reasonable arrangement. Unfortunately, these assumptions can lead to the more common missteps in a divorce mediation.”

Read the article

Life and death divorce matters – Life insurance for your spouse is an important matter in a marriage. It becomes just as important in a divorce. Particularly when there is child support and spousal support or alimony involved. This article takes an in-depth look at an often overlooked part of any divorce.

Read the article

 

Must Reads for Divorcing Couples

“Who does court trials anymore?”

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos (© 2015)

So the city-attorney and the country-attorney were talking when the country-attorney raised concerns about her upcoming divorce trial:

Country-attorney: – I hope we get the scheduled judge, I hope it goes off as scheduled, etc., etc.
City-attorney: -Who does court trials anymore?
Country-attorney: What do you mean? What do you do?
City-attorney: It is all arbitration now.
Country-attorney: – Why?
City-attorney: – It is all about control? The other side and I may disagree on many issues but we agree that we want to have the control over who decides the issues, when and where the hearing will be and when the decision will be made.

 Here is a lay person’s explanation as to why arbitration may well give the parties, and their attorneys, more control of resolution of their divorce issues.

Divorce Resolution by court trial.

Understanding certain characteristics of a court trial is important. (The following is based on the Massachusetts divorce court trial process. There are exceptions, but generally, the following will apply.)

The trial judge.

The trial judge is randomly assigned to a case when it is filed (probably about a year or two before any trial is scheduled). However, the judge scheduled to hear a trial may not do so for a variety of reasons including: illness, presiding over another trial, retirement or transfer.

The judge assigned to a case may have no judicial experience with the primary issue in the trial. For example, a corporate valuation issue or what is in the best of interest of a severely handicapped child.

The trial date.

A trial date is the expected date that the trial will start; and perhaps finish. Whether it will start is dependent on several factors. For example, “over booking”; this occurs because many cases scheduled for trial settle just prior to the trial. But, if all “assigned for trial” parties actually come to court for a trial then some cases will not begin.

A public trial.

The trial will be open to the public, including the press.

The Rules of Evidence.

Everything that is offered to the judge for consideration is offered under a set of rules called the Rules of Evidence. The Rules regulate how and what the judge sees and hears. For example, the Rules keep out of consideration photocopies instead of originals and affidavits instead of in person testimony. The Rules of Evidence result in costs that do not have to be incurred in arbitration.

The right to appeal.

After every divorce trial, either party has the right to appeal the trial judge’s decision. An appealing party may not win an appeal but the right to try is a part of every trial.

Divorce Resolution by arbitration.

The arbitrator.

The parties hand pick their arbitrator (or a panel of three or more arbitrators) based on ability, expertise and availability. For example, the parties may select an arbitrator with experience in corporate valuation or the needs of a severely handicapped child.

The hearing date.

The parties select the hearing date.

Confidential hearing.

The arbitration hearing is private and confidential.

Everything offered may be considered.

Generally, any party may offer for consideration evidence in any form.

Appeal.

With very specific exceptions to protect the integrity of the arbitration process, an arbitration decision (called an award) is final and binding.

Why have a court trial when arbitration…

provides privacy, expertise, efficiency and finality – sooner rather than later.

Facing Divorce? Why is Collaborative Divorce better than Litigated Divorce?

The first step in facing divorce is to select the best divorce process for the two of you, for example, litigation or Collaboration (Collaborative Divorce).

Of course, you each have different interests and goals; in litigation, a judge may dismiss them outright; that will not happen in Collaborative Divorce.

The first step.

Usually, it is best for the two of you to decide on the process, before selecting your attorneys.  Because attorneys are best at “what they do”, going to an attorney before selecting a process is not usually beneficial.  For example, if you go to a surgery oncologist for advice on how to handle a newly discovered cancer, you will most likely get advice on the best surgery. If you go to a medical oncologist, you will get advice on cancer drugs. The radiology oncologist will give you advice on cancer radiation. It is the same in divorce. Study and select the process before selecting the attorney. Being good at divorce litigation does not qualify an attorney to be a Collaborative Divorce Attorney. Only Collaborative Divorce Certified Attorneys can provide Collaborative Divorce representation.

Divorce Litigation.

Litigation involves confrontation. Confrontation begins when one spouse declares, in a public document called a “Complaint for Divorce”, that he/she is suing the other for divorce and wants custody of the children (if any) and an equitable share of all property. In this public document, the Plaintiff is the accuser and the defendant is the accused or defender. (In litigation, proceedings and most documents will be open to and available to the public for viewing and copying.)

In litigation, there are rules, procedures and laws that set out the procedure for divorce litigation, for example, Time Standards.

When considering what process is best for a spouse’s needs and budget, it is important to understand the effect of Time Standards.

Time Standards establish a list of events that must be addressed. Failure to address an event could result in sanctions. Note, just because the Time Standards order certain events, for example, the completion, filing, and serving of a Financial Statement, litigators know there are other rules that permit parties to skip, delay or get around a Time Standards rule.

Sound confusing? For litigators it is not; for persons representing themselves, it may be the first of many revelations. If someone represents himself of herself, the goal is not to get it all right- that is not going to happen- the goal is to not pay a sanction when she or he gets it wrong.

For those considering cost issues, litigation, by its nature, will result in fees for attorneys to “address” required events. Given the number of “events” in the Time Standards, this can be costly.

In litigation, if you and your spouse cannot resolve your differences, you will have a court trial, where one judge will decide your “divorced” future.

Collaborative Divorce.

In Collaborative Divorce, spouses use the Court System once, when they appear for an uncontested divorce hearing of about five minutes. No Divorce Complaint! No Plaintiff! No Defendant! No Time Standards! No dirty linen washed in public!

Collaborative Divorce is a unique process where spouses and their own trained and certified Collaborative Attorneys and “coaches” work together for, and only for, resolution of all issues.

In Collaborative Divorce, the spouses, their respective lawyers and other Collaborative Team members make up the Collaborative Team. The Team has one goal, the collaborative resolution of all issues without trial or arbitration, or the threat of either.

The Collaborative Team includes coaches who make the process more efficient and usually less expensive. The most common Collaborative Coaches are the Facilitator and the Financial Neutral. Your Facilitator expedites the process by helping each spouse precisely identify short and long-term goals. Your Financial Neutral expedites the process by analyzing the unique needs of each family, identifying tax provisions related to those needs and creating realistic plans to preserve family income and property.

Each attorney will be a trained and certified Collaborative Divorce Attorney. (Not all attorneys are Collaboratively Certified.)

Collaborative Divorce is often the least expensive and most efficient approach because court appearances, filings and other litigation requirements are avoided and because Coaches, who often cost less than litigation attorneys do, perform services that litigation attorneys normally provide.

© 2015 by Attorney Anthony C. Adamopoulos

MCLC_LogoFinal_CMYK_02

NEED A GOOD PCR?

What is a PCR?

Well, you probably have a good PCP, primary care physician, right? And, if you needed a referral to a good arthritis specialist, your PCP would give you a referral, right?
I am a Primary Care Referrer attorney. This means in addition to providing arbitration, mediation and collaborative representation, I act as a Primary Care Referrer attorney who will refer you to the experienced lawyer you need.
For example, I recently received a request for a referral from a client who had slipped, fell and was injured in a store. I was happy to refer this “hurting” client to a respected attorney who is an experienced, recognized personal injury attorney.
My colleague has been active in the greater Boston trial bar since 1985. He has taken numerous cases to verdict – and settled hundreds more. He represents persons in Massachusetts and elsewhere. (In an Ohio case, the jury returned a three million five hundred thousand dollar verdict for his side.) Recently, he received the 2015 President’s Award from the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.

The client who called for a referral got a pro. You will also.

HOW TO USE DEADLOCK ARBITRATION

PART TWO

STALEMATE - RAM HEADS

For PART ONE – WHY CONFIDENTIAL DEADLOCK ARBITRATIONsm

Making the decision to arbitrate:

  • Deadlock Arbitrationsm can be used to resolve deadlock arising out of the Collaborative or Mediation process.
  • After deadlock, attorneys discuss arbitration with their clients. Pro se litigants discuss arbitration between themselves.
  • If all agree, an Arbitration Agreement is executed.

The basic arbitration agreement provides for:

  • Confidential and private proceedings;
  • Discretion;
  • Issue selection and limitation;
  • Binding awards (there may be a high/low agreement);
  • Any other provision agreed upon;
  • The admission of all evidence which is then given the weight determined appropriate by the arbitrator; and
  • The time and location for the arbitration hearing.

Benefits of arbitration:

  • Provides privacy – for example, hearings are not open to the public.
  • Provides confidentiality – for example, testimony and documentary evidence are not available to the public.
  • Avoids unnecessary costs – for example, affidavits may be used instead of in person expert testimony.
  • Avoids unnecessary delays – for example, there are no unexpected court like delays.

Points to consider:

  • Speed – hearings can be scheduled within days and decisions awarded within weeks.
  • Single issue determination – arbitration can be used to resolve only one issue, e.g., the final “sticking point”.
  • Arbitration awards are generally not subject to appeal.

 

WHY CONFIDENTIAL DEADLOCK ARBITRATION?

PART ONE

CAT & DOG - STALEMATE

 

What is Deadlock Arbitration?

Deadlock Arbitrationsm   is a private confidential process that avoids the need to “change over” to public court litigation when divorce mediation or Collaborative Divorce reaches a total breakdown.

What causes deadlock?

Deadlock results from a party refusing to move from a position. For example, consider this scenario:

After negotiating for a period, all issues have been resolved, except for one – the wife’s recent inheritance from her father’s estate.

The wife says, it is hers. The husband says, he wants his share.

Neither party will compromise. They are deadlocked!

A lot of pain and effort went into getting agreement on everything but this one issue.

Think about it! Only one issue prevents a resolution.

Do the parties now have to leave Mediation or the Collaborative Process and go into court litigation?

N0.

How does Deadlock Arbitrationsm work?

In Deadlock Arbitrationsm, the parties “hand pick” an arbitrator to decide the one issue.

“Their” arbitrator travels to a location selected by the parties. There, in a confidential format, totally designed by the parties (with the help of their respective attorneys or their mediator), the arbitrator listens to the presentation of each side.

The arbitrator, within an agreed upon period, makes a decision on the deadlocked issue and the parties move on.

See Part Two  for:  HOW TO USE DEADLOCK ARBITRATIONsm

 

Why Collaborative Divorce? – Answered In One Picture.

 

February is Divorce Month in Massachusetts because there are so many divorces filed that month. So, it is safe to assume that people are right now considering what process to use, that is – Adversarial, Mediation or Collaborative. Elsewhere in DivorcingOptions.com you can read about these three processes in detail.

But, sometimes a picture says it all…

Divorce Approaches Diagram

View PDF version

If your considering divorce, now is the time to talk with someone who knows what he is talking about. And, he is talking about calling a truce to the war and getting a peace settlement. Call Anthony.

 

You may reprint or distribute this chart on your website so long as the copyright and contact information for Anthony C. Adamopoulos’ Divorce Resolution Services remains attached to the bottom of the image.

Copyright ©, 2014 Anthony C. Adamopoulos’ Divorce Resolution Services, DivorcingOptions.com. All rights reserved.

Children and Christmas Visitation?

My colleage Susan Lillis has written an excellent article on the annual question of “How do we handle the children at Christmas time?” 

From my  experience as a Collaborative Divorce Attorney, Mediator and past GAL, I cannot stress the value of “divorcing families” developing their own holiday traditions which can be more beneficial than the “alternating scenario”.  

Need Referral to Experienced Lawyer

DO YOU KNOW A GOOD LAWYER WHO DOES INTER GALACTIC SPACE LAW?

Actually, I don’t; but if you needed one, I would make the effort to find one.

Besides providing arbitration, mediation and collaborative representation, I act as a Primary Care Attorney who can refer you to the experienced lawyer you need.

Recently, I received a request for an elder care planning attorney. I was happy to refer the family to a trusted attorney who was an experienced elder care and trust lawyer.

Today, I received a “thank you” from the family I referred to the elder care planning and trust attorney. The “thank you” note described the attorney as:

… lovely, very kind and “down to earth”.  Everyone in my family said how [she was] nice, kind and totally explained things to us.  Again thank you, thank you, thank you. 

One of the most rewarding experiences for me is to receive positive feedback from someone I referred to a good attorney. My network of experienced, respected attorneys is available for almost any need, for example – a death in the family needs a probate attorney; an accident needs a negligence accident attorney; planning for the future needs an estate lawyer; winning the Lottery needs… well you know what I mean.

Call if you need a referral.