What Drives Your Passion? I Certainly Know What Drives Mine.

What Drives Your Passion? I Certainly Know What Drives Mine.
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The path that led to my becoming a mediator and advocate for change within our legal system came with many twists and turns, and experiences I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I first experienced the impact of our legal system up close and personal when my parents finally decided to divorce (and actually go through with it for once). They had previously separated on and off for extended periods of time throughout their marriage – a loveless and unhappy marriage from the outset and one involving plenty of abuse, both physical and emotional. The police were called to our house on quite a few occasions and once our father, a cardiologist with an office in Beverly Hills, was arrested, and spent the night in jail. His arrest made local news, as it was mentioned in the Police Blotter section of the Beverly Hills Courier.

In any event, the day of my high school graduation and shortly before the ceremony, my father informed me that he would be filing for divorce. The decision was long overdue and the nature of their relations were the reason I decided to attend Brandeis University rather than attend UCLA and live at home. While I couldn’t have been more pleased that my parents were finally divorcing, my father’s timing in informing me just as I was about to graduate from high school was a graduation gift I’ll never forget. There I was, about to graduate from Beverly Hills High School with Honors, and my father’s timing ruined what was to have been my special day. I shouldn’t have been surprised because both of my parents had a knack for ruining holidays, vacations, birthdays and any other “special days”, let alone any other days.

I remember so looking forward moving to Waltham, Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University and be thousands of miles away from my parents and their divorce.

While in college, I would hear from my two younger brothers about how our parents were using them as pawns both to hurt each other and for financial reasons. Yet, I had convinced myself that I was insulated from being used as a pawn since I was an eighteen year old college student living thousands of miles away.

My brothers didn’t really want to live with our father because he was residing with his future wife, one of our mother’s closest childhood friends and someone who we had gotten to know well in that context. In fact, over the years, our families even vacationed together. What we didn’t realize at the time was that the two of them began an affair at some point prior to our parents’ ultimate separation. We really shouldn’t have been surprised, considering that he’d dated my brother’s friend’s mothers when our parents had separated in the past. As you might assess from the timing of his divorce announcement to me, he never respected other people’s boundaries and never considered or concerned himself with how his choices and behavior hurt – even traumatized - others, including his own children.

On the other hand, our mother wasn’t ever very motherly with us. Throughout our childhood and while our parents were married, she would rather spend their income and assets on expensive clothing, jewelry, restaurants, vacations, and charity dinners that cost a thousand dollars a plate than on their children. Although I was the oldest child, our father was a successful cardiologist and we lived in Beverly Hills, I remember receiving hand-me-down clothing that the son of my mother’s financially struggling single friend had outgrown. I remember how I felt wearing those hand-me-downs to school, when my classmates all wore nicer and more fashionable clothing. It certainly didn’t help with my self-esteem and I sure felt as though it made me stand out, and not in a positive way. I didn’t even like the clothing. I’m sharing this information to give you an idea of how the child support our mother would receive for my two brothers would be spent. She was always too busy being a socialite, trying to see and be seen by other socialites and collecting copies of the local papers which contained pictures of her attending parties and events or mentioning her by name for such things than parenting her children.

Since she wasn’t really interested in being a mother to my brothers and since our father offered to buy them things – things they’d never get from our mother regardless of her financial situation, my brothers found themselves being used as pawns. For our mother, in addition to receiving child support, there’s no doubt that she was very concerned about how others would view her if she didn’t win custody of the kids. She tragically lived her entire life keeping up with the Joneses and concerned about what other people would think. As you might imagine, my brothers weren’t particularly excited with either choice.

While our parents were engaged in legal combat about anything and everything, our father negotiated with my brothers behind the scenes with bribes to buy them things. Since neither of our parents actually knew how to parent or cared to learn, we craved things. Although our parents caused us to experience anger, frustration, sadness, grief, not being listened to, disrespect, mistrust, and that we were unlovable and unloved, they could buy our love with things – or, what we thought was love at the time.

As is typical in litigated family law cases, the legal warfare didn’t end after they divorced.

Without telling us, our father quietly married our mother’s childhood friend the day after our parents’ divorce was finalized. Once again, our father’s timing was less than desirable and caused a great deal of friction. Irrespective, although our parents had divorced and “resolved” all legal issues, including division of property, child custody, child support, spousal support, and allocation of attorney’s fees, the court retained jurisdiction over child custody, child support, and spousal support, as is required as a matter of public policy.

So, our parents resumed their legal warfare as soon as the ink dried on their divorce decree. Our father essentially bought off my two brothers, who then told anyone and everyone necessary that they wanted to live with him full-time. Our father first got possession of the next oldest child. I use possession because that’s really all it was. In fact, after gaining possession, our father placed him in the possession of his brother for several weeks. He had more difficulty gaining possession of my youngest brother, which took a bit more time. In order to gain possession, our father told him to provoke our mother to strike or physically abuse him and then report her to the authorities. My brother was unsuccessful in provoking such a response, so our father told him to fabricate that she had physically abused him, which he did. Finally, our father had won full possession of both of my brothers and no longer needed to pay child support to our mother.

But, his need to win possession of their kids didn’t end there. Unbeknownst to me, I was his next target, which I learned in an ambush that occurred while I was visiting my paternal grandmother in Miami, Florida over the Spring Break of my freshman year in college. You see, I had no idea that our father and step-mother had a surprise planned for me during that visit. Part of the surprise was themselves and the other part was the message they wanted to deliver to me in person.

Shortly after I arrived, my father asked me to take a walk alone with him because he had something important to discuss with me. I’ll never forget walking along the beach with my father and hearing him tell me that they would no longer pay my tuition and expenses to attend Brandeis University unless I agreed to completely and permanently sever all ties with my mother. I was the last remaining possession he could take from our mother. However, to his complete surprise and despite the fact that he planned his ambush such that it would be too late for me to apply to transfer elsewhere for the following semester, I refused. As you might expect, the reminder of my Spring Break was rather tense and unpleasant; although I did get to hear them all bad mouth my mother the entire time.

At the end of my terribly unpleasant Spring Break, I returned to Brandeis University, where I had to perform well scholastically knowing the following:

  • My father would not pay for me to return to Brandeis the following year
  • My mother would not pay for me to return to Brandeis the following year either because she never wanted me to attend that school in the first place – she wanted me to attend UCLA and live with her
  • I wasn’t going to suddenly place myself in debt up to my eyeballs by taking out student loans I had never envisioned needing and considering that I would have attended UCLA and lived at home had I known that from the outset
  • I was uncertain what was to come of my college education and how much time I would lose from school because it was too late for me to apply for a transfer
  • My father would no longer communicate with me.

Nevertheless, I completed the school year. Shortly after returning home to my mother, she remarried, which terminated her right to spousal support from our father. The middle brother refused to attend her wedding, which only worsened his relationship with her. This didn’t help him much, considering that both of my brothers later found themselves back in our mother’s possession.

As bad as all this sounds, rest assured that none of their attorneys did anything to help ease the unprocessed emotions each of them held which were providing the fuel for their ongoing warfare, legal and otherwise. I’m well aware of exactly what each of those attorneys did and didn’t do because I discovered boxes containing all pleadings, correspondence, discovery, deposition transcripts, and all other aspects of those legal files in our mother’s closet while I was preparing the house for sale in 2005, after she passed away. Rest assured that I read every single word on every single page of materials in those boxes.

The legal community can defend the attorneys involved in my parents’ divorce all they want (as many have when I’ve shared this information in the past) and place blame squarely at the hands of my “evil parents”, as they’ve called them. However, as a well-trained and experienced mediator, I am well aware of tactics and strategies that can de-escalate conflicts and those that tend to escalate them. Would anyone venture to guess which tactics and strategies their lawyers used?

By the way, I also discovered boxes containing all such materials pertaining to my mother’s divorce from her second and final marriage, which was once again heavily litigated. Would it surprise anyone to learn that I read every single word on every single page of materials in those boxes? Would it surprise anyone to learn that the lawyers representing my mother and step-father in that divorce used similar tactics and strategies to those used by the attorneys involved in my parents’ divorce?

Nevertheless, although my father wasn’t taking calls from me, I still possessed some degree of hope that he would change his mind, re-establish a father/son relationship with me even though it also involved my having a mother/son relationship, and continue paying for me to attend Brandeis University. However, since he wouldn’t take my calls and since the internet didn’t yet exist, I decided to visit him at his office to try and reason with him. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as I had envisioned. He physically lifted me up in front of the patients in his waiting room and threw me out of his office.

The next thing I knew, I was served with a Restraining Order. The information set forth in that document consisted of “alternative facts”, including a statement that I walked into his office with a baseball bat and threatened to beat both he and his wife (his then office assistant) with it. Since I didn’t have a baseball bat with me when I went into his office and never physically threatened either of them, and since I was not yet aware of the use of “alternative facts” in legal documents, I was absolutely stunned. I wanted to fight it because, among other things, it portrayed me as having done something I didn’t actually do. However, I didn’t have the financial means with which to defend myself legally and my mother and soon-to-be step-father told me that he clearly didn’t want anything to do with me, so they wouldn’t assist me in fighting it.

I really can’t recall whether or not they obtained the Restraining Order after Hearing, which I didn’t attend or oppose, and I have no interest in researching it.

Meanwhile, life moved on and I was somehow able to get into UC San Diego for my sophomore year, without taking any time off. Unfortunately, by then, our mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. As a result, I returned to visit her almost every weekend.

On one such weekend, she told me that she was attending a luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She informed me that she was having difficulty driving because of the chemotherapy and asked if I would transport her back and forth, which I agreed to do. When the luncheon was over, she called and asked me to pick her up. She also informed me that my step-mother attended the luncheon, was somewhere in the hotel, and that I should go inside, look for her, and say hello.

I arrived at the hotel, went inside and found my step-mother, who was standing in a circle with a bunch of other women. I went over to her, placed my arm around her waist, said “Hello, Witch”, and walked away.

I then located my mother and drove her home. The next thing I knew, there was a warrant for my arrest for assault and battery. Since Beverly Hills was a relatively small town, my mother and step-father were notified about the warrant telephonically, so that I could turn myself in and save myself the embarrassment of being arrested in public. They drove me to the Beverly Hills Police Department, where I was “processed”, finger printed and immediately released, likely with bail having been paid.

The District Attorney didn’t want to pursue charges against me and scheduled a meeting in his office. Despite the District Attorney’s best efforts to make the matter go away because he viewed it as nothing more than a family matter, my father looked me straight in the face with stone cold eyes and said, “We want him prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.”

I didn’t understand how any of this could be happening, until the District Attorney informed me of my step-mother’s “alternative facts”, which were that I approached her, said “Hey Bitch, this is for you”, and punched her in the back. She also contended that she sustained a serious back injury as a result and for which she would be required to undergo surgery. He also informed me that some of the women present at the time had given statements corroborating her story.

My mother and step-father then retained a criminal defense attorney to represent me. I was at a complete loss as to how any of this was really happening because her story was nothing more than “alternative facts” and I couldn’t believe that others were so readily willing to perjure themselves. Of course, considering the number of people being found factually innocent of crimes they were convicted of having committed and after serving an average of fourteen years in prison because the alleged victim and witnesses later recant their testimony, I am not at all surprised by this anymore. After all, what are friends for, right? At that time, however, I failed to understand that pretty much everyone who testifies in court perjures themselves in some way because it’s all about winning at all costs.

Anyhow, shortly thereafter, I arranged to meet with my step-mother’s ex-husband, who we knew well and travel with while they were married. I wanted to see if he knew anything that might be of use in my defense. During our meeting, he told me that my step-mother required back surgery before the two of them divorced and hadn’t yet opted to go under the knife. He also told me that he was working very hard to try and re-establish relations with his children – relations which she helped to destroy while they were married. I asked if he would be willing to testify on my behalf, at which point I learned that he had cancer, was terminally ill and wasn’t long for this world. Needless to say, he had no interest in involving himself in my criminal matter and didn’t live long enough for us to even consider forcing his involvement.

As such, the case progressed, and since she was claiming that I caused her back injury, she also filed a personal injury case against me. I somehow managed to maintain good grades and transferred to UCLA as a junior, where I was admitted as an honor’s student. Considering the amount of stress I was under with regard just to these legal actions and my concern regarding the impact the outcomes would have on my life, future career, and the possibility of my being convicted and serving time in prison, it still amazes me that I managed to maintain my grades and ultimately gradulate Cum Laude.

One day, I received a call from my criminal defense attorney, who asked me if I saw the front page of that day’s edition of the Los Angeles Times. I said I hadn’t and asked why. He proceeded to tell me that if I read the front page, I would see that he successfully defended a man who had been charged with murder. He told me that he had won the case and that his client was found not guilty, and that he knew that the man had, in fact, committed the murder. I asked him why he was telling me this. He responded by telling me that he knew I hadn’t done what I was being accused of doing and that I was going to lose because I had no proof that I didn’t do it, her friends were willing to perjure themselves and corroborate her story, she underwent back surgery and I had no proof of her pre-existing need for back surgery, and because the very angry look on my face whenever I discussed the case wouldn’t endear me to a judge and jury. He therefore advised me to plead no contest.

A no contest plea is a plea used in criminal proceedings as an alternative to a guilty or not guilty plea, whereby the defendant neither disputes nor admits to doing the crime. This type of plea, also known as nolo contendere, literally means ‘I do not wish to contend.’”

I took his advice and the judge gave me summary probation and ordered that if I didn’t violate my probation, the record could be later sealed.

Summary probation, also called informal or misdemeanor probation, is a discretionary suspension of a sentence by the court and places the offender under the supervision of the court, not the probation department. Designed for first-time or juvenile offenders, it is discretionary because the prosecutor and/or court will generally have to agree to impose summary probation. While jail time is also possible in summary probation cases, time served will often be limited to the minimum sentence for the crime.”
Sealing a criminal record is a legal process which limits access to criminal records. Sealed records are not public records and will not appear in an ordinary criminal record check. Only certain criminal justice professionals under limited circumstances may inspect a sealed conviction record.”

While all this was occurring, the personal injury case was still pending. My mother and step-father somehow managed to get the cost of the legal defense and liability covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy and the policy limit for liability was $1M.

Without ever having met me, the attorney representing me in that personal injury action arranged for the homeowner’s insurance company to pay my step-mother $1M to settle the case.

So, before I had completed my junior year in college, I had very personal and intimate experiences with our legal (“justice”) system with regard to family law, domestic violence, criminal law and personal injury law. On each and every one of those occasions, I failed to see how anyone could refer to our legal system as a “justice system” with a straight face, especially those working within that system.

As my graduation from college was quickly approaching, I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I hadn’t really given it much thought because, in addition to maintaining my grades, I had been rather preoccupied. I ultimately decided to apply to law school; however, I never intended on practicing law. Furthermore, I wasn’t even sure that I would ever be admitted to the Bar, considering my background. Instead, I thought that if I better understood the law and the inner workings of our legal system, I could use my knowledge to help steer people away from getting involved with such an unjust system in the first place.

Still, if I were to graduate from law school, I wanted to become a member of the Bar. I can’t tell you how many of my law professors I burdened with my story in an effort to learn whether or not they thought I would ever be admitted to the Bar. Each and every one of them felt that I might possibly end up with a law degree and no license.

In the last semester of my third and final year of law school, I took a full-time internship with William J. Lasarow, then Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the Central District of California. I shared my story with him and his response was no different.

While working with Judge Lasarow, I learned that my father had filed for bankruptcy. Since I was working at the bankruptcy court, it was easy for me to order copies of his bankruptcy filings, which I did. I was stunned at the limited number of assets and incredibly low values of those assets he had listed on his paperwork and was convinced that he was defrauding his unsecured creditors by hiding money, filing for bankruptcy and having those debts (including outstanding attorney’s fees from his divorce from my mother) legally discharged. I asked Judge Lasarow if there was anything I could do to stop this from occurring. He told me that if I contacted the creditors, I might be able to get them to join together and form a creditors committee which might then collaborate to put a stop to it. He then said that based upon everything he heard about my father, if I were to do such a thing, it would be like handing him a bullet when he held an empty gun to my head. He told me that his best advice was for me to leave it be, forget that he filed for bankruptcy and to stay as far away from my father and his wife as possible.

When it came time for me to apply to take the Bar exam, I had to complete a moral turpitude section and wouldn’t know whether or not I’d be admitted to practice law until I passed the Bar exam itself. When I was completing the moral turpitude section and although the criminal case had been sealed, I felt that I needed to disclose it. I contacted both the criminal defense attorney and attorney who “defended” me in the personal injury action to see if they would meet with me and help explain my background in the paperwork. They both agreed to meet with me and both helped me to explain my unfortunate background such that I’d stand a better chance of being admitted to the Bar. I remember walking in to meet the attorney who handled the personal injury. We had never previously met. I was 5’9” and weighed no more than 140 pounds. As soon as he saw me, he said that he wished he had seen me at the time because after seeing me, he didn’t believe I could physically have done what I was accused of having done. He thought I appeared physically harmless, which I am.

With their assistance, I was admitted to the Bar. Prior to my admission, however, I asked my law school’s career center where the job listings for non-lawyer jobs for law school graduates. They literally looked at me as though I were insane and told me that there were no such jobs.

Thus, I worked for three different law firms between 1990 and mid-1993 and hated it. I then went to career counseling at UCLA and was told that my background and skills were most suited for the practice of law. So, I decided to open my own firm and practice law “my way.” While I was building a practice, I did independent contracting work for a variety of firms in all areas of law, including family law – the field of law in which I had the least interest because I didn’t want to help parents intentionally or unintentionally harm their children.

As it turned out, the family law attorney with whom I was working told me that she needed me to physically move into her office and be more hands-on with her clients. If I refused her request, I would lose the work and I really needed the income source. I therefore moved into her office and assisting with her cases, while still doing independent contracting for other attorneys in different fields of law and building my law practice.

I was very skilled at settling cases and the family law attorney told me that her clients would comment to her that they really appreciated what she referred to as “my bedside manner.” I began to focus on family law in my own practice and had convinced myself that I could represent people in family law matters and do so in a manner that would reduce the harm and trauma that the children might experience if a lawyer with a different approach and mindset were instead involved.

However, over time our society became increasingly more contentious, as did the legal community overall. I came to realize that I had been fooling myself because it only takes one parent and/or their attorney to sink the family ship. In other words, cases proceed in accordance with the lowest common denominator. It caused me a great deal of pain representing people within our “justice system”, a system I found to be incredibly unjust before ever entering law school, and having very personal experience as to how and why children of divorce and separation become collateral damage.

Around that same time, my mother died. Two days later, I learn that her ex-husband of ten years, my former step-father, the man who paid for three years of my college, my law school, and a summer abroad at Cambridge, among other things, was filing a creditor’s claim against her estate. The “alternative facts” he set forth in that case were incomprehensible to me.

At some point after they divorced his health started to decline and he looked physically unwell. He was twenty years my mother’s senior and was paying her approximately $12,000.00 a month in spousal support, which would terminate upon his death. She also had to return to court to extend the support without the need to show a change of circumstances. She decided that it was in her best interest to keep him healthy and in shape. She proposed that rather than her getting a court order extending the spousal support, he rent his house out, move into her house, continue paying her $12,000 a month, and that she would “take care of him.” By “take care of him”, she meant physically – making sure he was eating well, exercising, getting proper medical attention, etc. It had nothing to do with “taking care of him” financially. In fact, with my mother, money only went one direction – her direction. In fact, upon my mother’s death, I discovered a letter from my ex-step-father’s attorney to him in which this was very clearly spelled out.

In any event, he accepted her offer and moved into her house and slept in the bedroom that used to be my middle brother’s. Almost immediately, he stopped paying her the $12,000 per month. He also decided to sell the house in which he had been living. They agued constantly because he wasn’t complying with their agreement. It was a constant challenge for her to collect money from him. Yet, she had enough of court and accepted what he would give her, even though it was a constant battle and he never gave her what he’d agreed to give her.

At some point, she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. She didn’t tell any of her kids because she didn’t want us to know. Instead, she told us that she had diverticulitis. Meanwhile, he would take her back and forth to her oncologist.

None of us believed that she had diverticulitis. So, one day when I was alone with my ex-step-father, I asked him if her cancer had returned. He told me that he was sworn to secrecy and that he would tell me about her medical condition only if I swore to secrecy myself. I agreed and he told me that she had Stage IV breast cancer and that it spread throughout her body.

Then one day, one of my mother’s relatives called the house to notify her that an interest in land she had inherited from her grandfather was being sold and that she stood to receive $1M. Unbeknownst to my mother, my ex-step-father answered that call. This information did not come to light until the trial pertaining to the creditor claim he filed against her estate. During that call, my mother’s relative asked if she had a fax number to which he could fax documents. My ex-step-father provided that fax number and read the documents. He never told my mother or any of us that he knew anything about the $1M and she never told him about it. However, he was angered by her secrecy and the fact that the money always flowed one direction, so he pled poverty to her after learning about the money. He never again paid her one red cent; yet, he continued residing in her house. They argued constantly, especially since he wasn’t contributing toward any of the expenses.

Her health was declining and she believed the stress he was causing her was a contributing factor, so she asked him to move out, which he did.

Then, knowing she had Stage IV breast cancer and was not long for the world, he waited ten months for her to die before filing a law suit against her.

He pled poverty in the creditor claim – just as he had done when he divorced our mother. However, in a divorce case, she was entitled to receive copies of all of his tax returns, including the corporate tax returns and he kept all of his assets in the corporation. The divorce court found that his net worth at the time was $7.5M. We had copies of all of the documents from the divorce case to show that he pled poverty at that time, as well. Unfortunately, however, that information was legally inadmissible and irrelevant in the creditor claim. Furthermore, we weren’t entitled to see any of his income tax returns in order to defend against his creditor claim. He could plead poverty all he wanted and we had no way of proving otherwise. It’s also important to undertand that probate court is a court of equity.

He testified that he hadn’t waited ten months after being forced to move out of her house before taking legal action because he was waiting for her to die so that she couldn’t defend herself. Instead, he testified that he had no idea that her cancer had returned. Imagine my surprise, considering that I had learned about her Stage IV breast cancer through him.

On our mother’s desk, I discovered the letter I previously mentioned, which contained information that my attorney believed would put an end to his case. Unfortunately, however, the discovery referee in the case stated that since it was addressed to him from his former attorney and since I couldn’t explain how it came into my mother’s possession, it was legally inadmissible.

In the creditor case, he claimed that by “take care of him”, my mother meant financially for the rest of his life.

Additionally, although we were scheduled to call my mother’s oncologist to the witness stand to show that my ex-step-father used to take her for her cancer treatments and therefore clearly knew that her cancer had returned, the judge stated that his testimony wouldn’t make any difference other than wasting everyone’s time. My attorney advised me that the judge must be deciding in our favor because why else would she want such evidence excluded from the record. As such, we opted not to involve the doctor in the case.

Well, my ex-step-father won the case and the judge awarded him $1M from our mother’s estate. My maternal grandmother, and my siblings blamed me for the outcome because I was the Successor Trustee of her Trust and Executor of her Will. I was responsible for hiring the attorney who represented the estate in the claim and they couldn’t figure out how such an injustice occurred, so they blamed me. That was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my maternal grandmother and my two siblings.

I couldn’t believe that after more than fifteen years of working within the legal field, there was nothing I could have done to prevent such an injustice.

The one thing I had done in that regard was to request that the case go to mediation before the judge who had previously presided in the courtroom in which the trial was to take place. I told my attorney that if the mediator believed that my ex-step-father had a legitimate case and told me how much it was worth, if anything, I’d cut him a check and call it a day. They agreed to that mediator, whose evaluation was that he’d never win at trial. The mediator advised me that to make the case go away, I should offer to settle for whatever my attorney believed it would cost to take the case all the way to trial – a sum my attorney estimated to be approximately $210,000.00. I offered to settle the case for that sum and he and his attorney stormed out of the mediation. The mediator then sent a letter to both sides, stating that it was a loser case and that they should seriously consider accepting the $210,000.00 or returning to mediation. They did neither and if I settled for anything more than $210,000.00, I would have violated my fiduciary duties to my siblings because the expert had stated that it was a loser case, that he’d never win at trial, and that I shouldn’t settle for more than whatever additional fees and costs I was expected to incur in taking the case to trial.

When I realized that my legal knowledge couldn’t prevent me from experiencing yet another injustice at the hands of our “justice system”, I couldn’t get myself to continue working within that system. After all, if every experience I personally had with the legal system had led to an injustice, how could I believe otherwise with regard to my clients?

I’ve now personally experienced injustice at the hands of our “justice system” in family law, domestic violence, criminal law, personal injury law, bankruptcy, and probate law. It’s impossible that every time I find myself involved in any aspect of our “justice system” I experience such injustices and the same isn’t true for others.

I don’t know what motivated any of my mediation colleagues to pursue mediation – and I don’t mean the type of mediation I encountered in my mother’s probate case, something I no longer consider mediation, but I sure as hell know what motivated me. I also know from where my passion comes and why I spend the time I spend doing the research and writing I do, using the social media, and otherwise trying to constantly gain more knowledge and improve my skills, while also working tirelessly to try and educate people about the realities of our legal system and the available alternatives.

Had I known about true mediation before ever applying to law school, there’s no question I would have pursued a career in mediation at that time. Remember, as I said earlier on, I ultimately decided to apply to law school; however, I never intended on practicing law. Instead, I thought that if I better understood the law and the inner workings of our legal system, I could use my knowledge to help steer people away from getting involved with the system in the first place.

If you want to understand what motivates someone and what life experiences led them to feel the way they do, how about walking a mile in their shoes?

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