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Pivoting from five years of insurance defense litigation at a mid-size firm to family law in a small/boutique firm (3 partners and about 4 associates). What do you wish you knew when you first entered the field? Any advice is appreciated! So excited for this leap of faith into what I truly believe is my calling.

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Dont become personally invested in your client’s drama, each side is not perfect or pure. establish boundaries and keep them. Be responsive to clients inquiries, and find a good therapist, take time to work out and be healthy. Its a draining line of work and takes out even the best of them.

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Godspeed

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I recently left a similar family law firm after 5 years to do transactional matters. My biggest piece of advice would be to, as much is as practical, help your clients think of the divorce/custody/child support/etc. as a business decision.

From my experience, many clients thought of their domestic law affairs as “in addition” to their day to day life as opposed to “part of it.” By this I mean they could be less responsive during the work day, wanting to do things after hours, etc.

As others mentioned, setting boundaries for yourself will be important. Best of luck.

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Boundaries need to be set early and stuck to. Don’t give out your cell phone number. It’s bit me in the ass 4/5 times.

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A3: I’m a family law attorney with only one phone. I have a free Google voice number that goes to my cell phone and that’s the one that I give to clients. They can call or text as needed, but I always have the power to mute the notifications or even delete the app for a brief period if I’m on vacation and don’t want to feel pressured to check it.

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Stay out of the emotinal drama. You won’t be a bad attorney if you don’t give into the drama in fact you will be much better. Don’t let your clients stress and anxiety and inability to regulate emotions affect you . Remember the judge makes the decision so that weight is not Yours do carry as long as you over prepared

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Absolutely right! Great advice. I recently agreed to do a hearing for a friend who’s attorney was out of town. I know too much of her drama. I am too close and invested in her kids. Not a good mix for me!

Befriend the other associates or they can be catty and competitive real fast

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I just need advice. I need constructive criticism. I am in Florida. I did family law 20 years ago in another state. A friend is going through an awful divorce with a baby and a four year old. Her attorney is going through his own divorce with little kids. He keeps dropping the ball and has even had Attorney’s fees assessed for missing hearings! He unannounced went on vacation out West and could not be contacted. My friend got notice of a hearing for her permanent injunction against her abusive husband and I agreed to a limited appearance for the purpose of dealing with her husband’s motion for continuance and his motion for a finding that she brought the proceedings in bad faith. She had been denied the temp injunction because she wasn’t allowed by the clerk to append additional pages with argument. She had no idea how to fill out the paperwork properly and English is her second language. She had no guidance filling out paperwork and was trying to add e-mails and a bunch of frankly irrelevant things thinking she had to have everything basically to litigate the underlying time sharing issues etc. She has had no guidance from her attorney on what is relevant in a DV case. Anyway, I drive 3 hours and show up with very little time to prep. I successfully argue no bad faith. Then I make a huge mistake I think. I argue against the 45 day requested extension for the perm injunction. I had argued that CPS wanted her to file for the injunction in the first place because they said with the allegations back and forth and their investigation showing the older daughter did say her dad licked her on her buttocks and kisses her on her buttocks (through clothing, but the crim stat in Fl under lewd and lascivious allows for that). I felt that then turning around and saying it’s not an emergency and sure have 45 days to prepare is fine was very inconsistent and undermined my friend for future proceedings. Her attorney told her to just do the injunction herself because it had no bearing on the underlying divorce and time sharing case. I don’t agree, because it did even if just judges perception in my old state. I was a law clerk and judges talk. I may be wrong in FL? So, anyway I mistakenly thought I could argue against the 45 day extension and ask for a temp injunction for 15 days with the dad only having supervised visitation. The mum had asked for no contact but given the way the winds were blowing in the hearing I wanted her to seem more reasonable (English is her second language. She is a tall larger lady. She is angry and upset and I had no time to prepare her as a witness. The judge was already worried she was just maneuvering behind the DV judge’s back). Apparently in FL you can’t renew the petition for a temp injunction on the fly in court. That was my mistake. I did not know that! So I make that argument and it’s denied and great we have to go to a full hearing on the permanent injunction! No witnesses except for the sheriff deputy I didn’t even know was there until she came to me during a break. I also had no idea what she would say, no evidence, no CPS recordings. Only my friend the mum and a picture her child drew of the dad with a red stuck in his hand and a red fist! So I enter the fresh hell of being completely unprepared for this full blown hearing. His attorney is very good and gleeful knowing both my hands are tied behind my back and I am punching blind. I put the sheriff deputy on and because of the child hearsay rule, and no motion having been filed beforehand, can only get her to testify that her conclusions were inconclusive that sexual abuse may have taken place but the child’s demeanor etc., was inconclusive. Then I put my friend on the stand. She looks at her husband the entire time. She is admonished by the judge. She is angry and crying. I try to get the drawing admitted knowing it likely will not be. I argue the child’s statements about her father beating her are an excited utterance. That fails. I try to get my friend to talk about her direct observations of issues. She testified about bruises every time the girls are returned to her. She testifies about the oldest girl’s weight loss. And tried to talk about the doctor’s concern of his not feeding her. Disallowed of course as hearsay. We have no med records and doc not subpoenaed etc. I try yo get evidence about the father’s threats to poison the family pet but as she had just checked the box and not provided further details that was denied as a due process issue. I try to get stalking and harassment evidence in. Denied because my friend did not provide details in her petition. I did manage to get evidence of the girls coming back with badly soiled panties and unclean and tired. Not enough for criminal neglect though. In the end we predictably lose. I had made another motion for the record stating if forced to go yo a full hearing that day we were unprepared. Denied as I argued against the 45 day extension and the judge was irked because I was now asking for a 15 day extension with supervised visitation. I see no inconsistency between arguing against 45 days unsupervised and 15 days supervised but apparently I am wrong under Florida family court law. In the end judge said if new evidence she is welcome to bring a new petition. He said his concern was she was trying to litigate the divorce and time sharing case in his court instead of with the divorce judge. Naturally it appeared that way because I had to ask open ended ?? on the stand and she did not know what was just relevant the to the DV case. Judge says based on the evidence the 4 year old could just be dangerously underweight and emotionally distraught because of a contentious divorce. I could appeal the ruling and possibly get it reversed and remanded based on due process grounds forcing a full hearing when the judge could have granted a shorter extension based on my argument for one (I am a fed appellate attorney). I think that would just piss of the judge pool more and not gain my friend anything? Any advice? Please be kind to me. I boarded a train wreck in mid wreck and did the best I could under the circumstances.

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