One of the ways I give back to the Probate and Family Courts is by volunteering as “Lawyer of the Day” in the courts where I frequently practice. There are many reasons why I do this. As always, it is because I appreciate how hard the staff works assisting attorneys and litigants in a resources limited environment. Initially, it was an opportunity to learn more about the procedures and forms I would not necessarily encounter in my practice at the time. Then, it was to have the opportunity to practice thinking fast “on my feet” and problem solve one case after another quickly. (There are often long lines for the lawyer of the day).
That was then, and this is now. I still volunteer as Lawyer of the Day, but I bring a different perspective. I view my role as assisting people to resolve their issue, not just by filling out the necessary paperwork and honing my skills, but also by posing questions such as: What harm is there in changing the rules of the game? Could a shift in your attitude possibly bring about a compromise of some sort? I then often role play with them. Surprisingly, the role playing frequently clarifies the point!
Admittedly, there are times when I get discouraged hearing negative after negative comments from clients as well as others caught in the system. Stating that the courts are not fair, the system does not work, and my former spouse seems to get away with his/her antics every time, only exacerbates the tension between the parties. Moreover, it appears that judges grow tired with these self-defeating attitudes.
The likely result: little is accomplished; constructive changes are few, and anger levels do not dissipate! One of my goals at Konowitz & Greenberg is to support a client in making a change, small as it may be.
Before blaming the system, muster the courage to stand outside of yourself; take a stab at seeing your conflicts and friction in a different light. Treat life as a kaleidoscope.
As the song from Beauty and the Beast states, “Just a little change, small as it may be… both a little scared, neither one prepared…”