Brahm Siegel is a Toronto family law and divorce lawyer, mediator and arbitrator. Starting this week he will answer your questions on all aspects of family law. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very excited about this column. For years family, friends and clients have been urging me to write a book about my cases. I'm not interested and frankly speaking, don't have the time.
What does interest me however, is connecting with the public about family law issues and I'm looking forward to doing just that with this column. Each week I will answer reader questions about a particular aspect of divorce law. I'll provide a basic understanding of the law, some helpful tips and sometimes, depending on my mood, share an experience or two from one of my cases. Once in a while, instead of reader questions, I'll post a column about a particular decision or subject of interest; I may even spice things up with an interview with a lawyer who just completed a noteworthy case, a judge or even a client who's consented to having their information in the public domain.
Having done this for 16 years now, I'm frequently asked the same questions at get-togethers and parties. "How can you do what you do?" "Isn't it hard to see all that fighting all the time?" "Why do you choose to be a divorce lawyer?"
My answers are always the same. Yes, it's hard to be around conflict all the time. Managing conflict is what we do as divorce lawyers: conflicts with our clients, conflicts with opposing lawyers and, of course, conflict with judges. Sometimes the stress of it all can get exhausting and it is not uncommon for me to fall asleep not long after my young children go to bed.
But, I do what I do because I enjoy -- and believe I'm good at -- resolving family law disputes. To me there is nothing more satisfying in our line of work than starting to work with a client who is extremely upset, unsure of her rights and financially vulnerable and seeing that same client at the end of the process with a settlement and signed agreement, ready to start a new chapter in life.
I also very much enjoy the challenge of persuasion. Whether it be persuading the judge to see things from my client's point of view, persuading the other lawyer to consider my client's position or -- as often the case -- persuading my client to look at things a different way (often, the other side's). Hand in hand with persuasion goes the art of oral advocacy in court. There is nothing that makes you feel more alive than a highly contested court date and the give-and-take between lawyers in front of an experienced family court judge is something I really enjoy, despite the stress.
Finally, I chose to be a divorce lawyer for one simple reason, because I believe it is by far the most rewarding area of law. Far more emotional (some would say "messy") than all other fields, there is no other profession which combines the need to be an expert in the law with a healthy dose of therapist and a dash of financial common sense. It is also, I believe, the most valuable. Everyone knows nothing affects children like a divorce. Working with clients who are going through a divorce, particularly those with children, is far more rewarding to me, than, say, helping corporation A buy corporation B. With all due respect to my corporate lawyer friends, that's just how I feel.
So, with that off my chest, I welcome you to the column and look forward to answering your questions about family law! See you next week!
Have a question about family law? Ask Brahm at email@example.com.