I’m a person who lives in the world, and so, for me – like for anyone else – the topic of what I do for a living is something that comes up with some frequency. I usually just say something vague like, ‘Oh, I work at a law firm,’ so that they’ll hopefully stop asking questions. But if I’m with someone else I know, they’ll usually add, “Yeah, she’s an attorney who only represents WOMEN in DIVORCE,” and, well, you can imagine how the conversation usually proceeds.
I’ve been watching TikTok, and I’ve seen a bunch of challenges where people answer questions that they’re commonly asked. They’re fun, and often really lighthearted, and help to expose either problems or insensitive questions, or just to shed light on a topic that people may not know a lot about. I’ve toyed around with the idea of doing my own video soon – and maybe by the time you see this I’ll have made an appearance on TikTok – but, at any rate, I thought it’d be fun to write an article about some of the more common things I hear when people find out what I do!
1. Don’t you think it’s sad to do divorce?
No. You know what I think is sad? Being in a bad relationship. Being in an unhappy relationship. Being in an abusive relationship.
You know what I think is sad? Kids growing up in a toxic environment.
You know what I think is sad? An entire life spent in a marriage that wasn’t happy, didn’t enrich your life, and didn’t help you achieve your goals. At the end of the day, there’s no reward for living in an unhappy, unfulfilling, or abusive relationship.
2. A divorce attorney? I bet your husband is on his BEST behavior!
This one’s hilarious. [Insert sarcastic tone of voice.]
No, my husband is, like any other husband, not on his best behavior. He leaves his socks all over the place, won’t put away his laundry, and dirties every single dish in the kitchen when he cooks.
But, also, our relationship is one that is built on mutual love and respect, and has very little to do with what I do for a living, except in that he is proud of me and supports my career at every opportunity. He’s proud of me. He’s evolved like that.
3. Are you, like, a pit bull?
Have you met me? No, I am not. There’s more than one way to be an effective advocate for clients. I find that being articulate and persuasive is better than being a ‘pit bull’ even though that seems to be a description that people like to attach to attorneys.
I certainly do know lawyers who I might characterize as pit bulls. If that’s what you want, go for it. But probably consider that this way of lawyering might not be the most effective. Up to you, though!
You know what Charlie Hofheimer, the founder of the firm, used to say? If you win on the law, pound the law. If you win on the facts, pound the facts. If you don’t have the law or the facts, pound the table. That’s what pit bulls seem like to me. Table pounders.
4. Don’t you feel bad for the kids whose parents you divorce?
I’m a mom, too. So I’m definitely always thinking about the kids. But I think that kids growing up in a toxic household where their parents fight all the time is worse than establishing two separate but otherwise happy homes.
I think there’s a wrong way to go about divorce, too, that can also be very scarring for children, but I try to counsel my clients against taking that kind of action. In general, I am of the opinion that the more information my clients have, the better their choices can be. Empowered, knowledgeable women can see the forest for the trees and can make decisions that keep their kids’ well being at the forefront. I am always having that conversation.
5. Do you hate men?
I do hate abusers, though.
6. Why did you want to do family law? It sounds awful!
I always wanted to do family law! I love that it’s such a human experience and that I’m connecting with real people going through real hardship. I feel like I can help. It’s cathartic. It’s interesting. It’s real. Unlike, say, tax or business law. THAT sounds awful.
Also, I was in an abusive relationship myself in law school. It definitely propelled me forward. I also witnessed a family member’s abusive relationship when I was very young, and it was a formative experience. It’s funny how bad experiences can propel you forward in your life to do some of your best work.
For my clients, I think divorce is a lot the same. Maybe as an experience not what they would have wished, but, at the same time, a source of strength and empowerment that moves them forward to bigger, better things.
7. Is divorce really expensive?
I guess so? It’s relative, and there’s a wide range. Some of the most expensive cases I’ve seen, though, are expensive because the people involved were incredibly difficult.
What’s important is to understand the types of divorce, to have a loose idea of your goals, and to set a course of action that helps you reach those goals. That way, you don’t spend unnecessary money fighting over the ‘principle’ or litigating out of anger or fear.
8. Do you take cases pro bono?
9. Do you represent your friends?
If I know you – and especially if I know your soon-to-be ex, too, I’d really rather not – but I have a whole firm full of awesome coworker friends who I’d love to connect you with!
10. You must know all sorts of secrets! Can you tell me about your weirdest case?
Oh my gosh, you have no idea! But, sorry – it’s all confidential! What I will say, though, is that you shouldn’t be ashamed. Family law cases touch on all sorts of complicated, emotional, or embarrassing topics, like your finances, your intimate relationships, your sex life, and your parenting.
Don’t be afraid to confide in your lawyer – though not necessarily me, if you see me randomly at a cocktail party, family gathering, or child’s birthday party – about your situation so that she can give you the best advice possible.
Hey, life is messy! Family law is pretty messy, too. But, at the end of the day, I really believe in the work that I do, and I know that it creates better futures for women.
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