A Story of Yearning… by Katherine Miller

I posted an ad for an associate on a local law-related listserv. The ad goes on to require a number of very specific and unusual application procedures.

Here’s what it says in part:

We are a growing law firm providing non-litigation resolution of family law matters where possible. Our mission is to change how people divorce particularly focusing on developing good parenting plans so that children can still have two good parents following divorce. 

 We work hard to provide value to clients above and beyond providing exemplary legal and mediation services. We need an attorney to provide litigation services where mediation isn’t possible immediately and grow into mediation and Collaborative Law.  The ideal candidate will be a great, compassionate attorney with family law experience, willing to learn mediation and collaboration skills.

The ad was real but this writing isn’t about a search for employment…it’s a story of yearning.

I received a number of responses from lawyers complimenting me on the ad.  I also received the following from one person:

Katherine: Your post moved me. It is the single most inspiring and creative description of what we as lawyers set out to do. I only wish I wasn’t so far – in xxxxxxx, or I’d be there in a heartbeat, because I so wholeheartedly believe in your and your firm’s philosophy. I read through your firm’s website, and found it humbling, while inspiring and moving at the same time.

 After 27 years in this business, it’s often so disheartening (particularly in matrimonials, as well as other litigation): people tend to lose focus and forget the ideals that propelled them into this work in the first place.

 I want to thank you- it did me good to hear from you and your partners, and realize that there still are really good, smart, and dedicated people still in this profession. It recharged/renewed me and actually might keep me going a little bit longer!

 Another person wrote:

Great ad, i almost want to work for you and I don’t do family law.

It seems that the way the ad describes the work that we do, strikes a chord for some lawyers and reminds them of the ideals that led them to go into the law in the first place.  The work we do using the Understanding Based Model allows us to make a real difference in the lives of our clients and touch them as human beings not just paying clients.  Whatever area we practice in, lawyers, as people, crave connection with ourselves, each other and with clients.  We often get lost in the doing of what we are told we are supposed to do, in the structure of the practice and we lose our humanity.  Worse, we are taught that it is weak to be compassionate.

The Understanding Based Model assumes the opposite is true; that there is opportunity in understanding.  Strength in compassion.  Truth in connection.  We all feel the power of these ideas but we are taught to be afraid.  A door was unlocked for me when I attended my first training in this way of working many years ago.  Unlocking that door, pushing it open and seeing the possibility and power that lies in working through conflict together—honoring ourselves and each other—has completely changed the way I live my life not only the way I  practice law and have built my business.  I am incredibly grateful to have found a way to love what I do and to learn and grow as a person through my work as a lawyer.