I personally represented thousands of vulnerable young people in child abuse and neglect cases in the New York City Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice Systems.
Yes, thousands. For over twenty years, I worked in the New York City Family Courts representing children in abusive or neglectful circumstances, in families facing high conflict custody disputes, and in those facing charges of juvenile delinquency.
We lawyers used to say our wish was to be put out of work. Even though there were changes to lower the caseloads for those of us representing the city’s most vulnerable, we still could barely keep up.
We were tired. There were so many kids who needed legal representation.
Now that I’m in my own private practice, I’m in a whole different arena. Sure, there’s stress—I’m no longer salaried, so it’s up to me to grow my business, find clients, and be successful. That means I’m out networking and letting people know about my services. But, because of my field—family law, divorce, custody, and child welfare—I realize that my practice’s success comes at the cost of someone else’s personal misfortune. For my business to build up, I have to watch families break down.
This is a sobering realization. How do I deal with this?
By making the experience of divorce or custody determinations less painful. By keeping children, whose parents are going through divorce, out of the middle of their parents conflict. Through my new role and work in mediation and parenting coordination, I hope to help families before they end up in litigation. Through collaborative, non-combative, and less-conflictual methods, my goal now is to do what I hoped would happen when I worked for the city—to lessen the strain on the Court system by resolving as much as possible outside of Court.
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