One of the first rules I learned as a domestic relations lawyer is that you simply can't tell people what they want to hear. Lawyers do a great disservice to their client when they engage in platitudes and make promises. They'll say they can deliver the sun and moon and the stars. That's the way, unfortunately, some lawyers do things, and we have to deal with it.
In fact, there's a fine balance. We also don't want to paint a picture of gloom and doom and hardship. Outcomes are worked through, and results can be anticipated, but at the beginning of a case, especially, no one should be making promises about anything.
The variables, of course, are more about who is involved, rather than what is involved. It's people - spouses, lawyers, mediators, sometimes even judges - who determine how the process is going to play out.
More than anything, I'm your advocate. I want to know what you want, and what the issues of your life and marriage are. To a degree we engage in damage control.
As I tell my clients, marriage is one of life's original acts of compromise. In working to end one - constructively and with a minimum of pain - we should keep that in mind.
As many here know, I am from the Hampton Roads region, which is where I grew up and launched my career. It's not quite the melting pot that D.C. is, and it is certainly not as fast paced, but I became experienced with Virginia law and the state's courts quite early - right out of a Virginia law school. And all of that experience has contributed to my success here today.
While Virginia Beach may be more conservative that Northern Virginia, the state's laws and judicial processes are of course the same - so in that respect Norfolk is closer to Arlington and McLean than, say, Rockville, Md., is.
I entered family law because I felt very good about being able to help families. I bring a lot of drive to my work. When I put my mind to something, I do it.
I think our firm is a team of complimentary strengths. David Masterman is the best at cross examination in a courtroom that I have ever seen - and a lot of other lawyers say that as well. I know I have benefited from that.
Now that I am married and have small children, I can say that I have a different perspective - I appreciate much, much more today what my clients are going through. And I know all of that has made me a better lawyer - and made my work all the more satisfying.