I’m a business owner. I ain’t got time to lose my mind. If you can relate…here are some apps to help you guard your sanity no matter when or where you need them.

Insight Timer.

Rated as the top free meditation app on the Android and IOS stores, Insight Timer is home to some 7,697 free guided meditations, music tracks, talks and courses on a variety o topics. There are so many topics and practices to choose from; you can listen and find what works best for you.

Best part or lawyers – you get to decide how much time you want to devote to the practice. You can literally find tracks that last no more than a few minutes. Perfect for a quick mid-day stress relief session!

For more info visit insighttimer.com.

Headspace.

According to the folks at Headspace, “[i]t only takes a few minutes to change the rest of your day.”  Headspace teaches you to mediate and live mindfully with hundreds of themed sessions on everything from stress to sleep. BONUS! There are short session for busy schedules! -See, I told you I was gonna take care of you!

Meditation has been shown to promote subtle improvements in focus, attention and the ability to ignore distractions. Even if you don’t feel stressed, mediation can be useful for overall mental well-being in your practice.

For more visit headspace.com.

Worry Watch.

If you find yourself distracted by worries about cases, clients or personal events, Worry Watch may be an app for you. Worry Watch is a journaling app that allows you to track your worries in the moment and revisit them later.

The idea: You “reflect” on your anxiety patterns “realize” the outcome, and “reform” based on your own statistics. You might find that many of your fears are unfounded.

For more visit worrywatch.com.

Happify.

Our profession often creates and allows negative thinking patterns to take over and we don;t even realize it. Happify is a brain training app that helps you break negative patterns of thinking while forming new habits to help you take control of your thoughts.  The app consists of games and activities that can be used anytime and anywhere. YES!!!

As Happify says, “[s]mall slices of time can make big-time changes.”

For more visit happify.com.

Pacifica.

According to Pacifica, our reality is created through ongoing cycles of thoughts, feelings and behaviors. These can be positive or negative. Pacifica works to help you break negative cycles and learn to manage and change thinking and behavior patterns through cognitive behavioral therapy.

For more visit thinkpacifica.com.

 

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life Follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

 

5 things you could be doing personally everyday to help your business grow and meet its goals 🙌. Let’s dig right in….

1. Set clear intentions for your day: First things first, did you take time to identify what needs to get done today and what things take priority or are you just jumping out of bed and into the chaos?

Ordered thinking requires more than good intentions or falling into distracted morning routines. Set time aside to quiet your mind before you do anything else. If you haven’t already, consider a mediation or yoga practice. WRITE IT OUT. On your phone, on a post-it, whatever keeps you organized just get it down. Journaling is a great morning exercise too and can accompany that.

2. Honor commitments. “Obligations squarely met” Make a decision to honor your commitments no matter what and stick to it!! That applies to both business and personal. Avoid cutting things out to catch-up on other things. You will be taken more seriously. You will get more done in the long run. You’ll enjoy greater balance. You’ll avoid negative self-talk.

3. Bring the best product: There’s nothing better than that good-good tired after a long day of bringing your all. Why shouldn’t that be the goal every day. You may not always have the same energy but you can make a consistent commitment to do the best you can with what you have.

4. Try and help someone every day. That’s it. You’ll will benefit and so will your work.

5. Clean house. Take inventory: a business that doesn’t take inventory will fail but this applies to you personally as well. How do you expect to succeed if you’re not making time to clean house mentally and emotionally? Talk. Journal. Pray. Whatever works for you but take time for personal reflection and development on a daily basis. It’s the only way to grow.

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life Follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

#successmindset #wordgasm #personallegend #successquotes

#winningmentality #inspirationalquotes #successgoals #personaldevelopment #trusttheuniverse #5amclub #personalgrowthjourney #propertwelve #personalgrowth #couragequotes #businessadvice #powerfulwords #positivemindset #jayshetty #positivequotes #thinkandgrowrich #positivemomentum #entrepreneurminds #mindsetcoach #inspirationalbusiness #wisdomquotes

Wasting no time with my workflow: I decided I wanted to work from Atlanta for a couple days so that’s what I’m doing. Travel deal, good excuse to see friends and practice makes perfect with my office without walls so deuces!
“For me life is nothing without creating experiences. Travel, trying new things and exploring is of maximum importance to me. I want a workflow that encourages me to do that, not one that creates fear and anxiety about doing things I know are healthy for me.”

Stepped off the plane to emergency emails, texts and phone calls in one of my crazier custody cases. I was hungry and had to move quickly so I googled some of the best reviewed diners in town and posted up to start drafting a responsive pleading.

3 fried green tomatoes and a side of black eyed peas later and so far I’m pleased with the way I can produce in a pinch and from literally anywhere. The mobile parts of my office have shrunk to 1/3 the contents of a carry-on bag and unlike this time last year all office projects can be managed from an app on my phone.

Looking at this I can see how our little office without walls has naturally just developed and evolved into its own groove. Some call that a workflow. Finding one that works for your lifestyle is a journey, but one worth taking.  The workflow that allows me to live a happy and fulfilled life is one that allows me to stay mobile and change my surroundings as needed.  For me life is nothing without creating experiences. Travel, trying new things and exploring is of maximum importance to me. I want a workflow that encourages me to do that, not one that creates fear and anxiety about doing things I know are healthy for me.

I’ve never been on board with cookie-cutter plans or doing things like everyone else just because. A workflow that works with who you are naturally is one that’s going to allow you to produce your best work, live your best life, and be your best you.

For more about workflows and living your best life as a young professional check out my blog www.officewithoutwalls.org, follow my YouTube Channel @sasfitpractice or download my FREE OFFICE WITHOUT WALLS POCKET GUIDE from one of my Instagram pages @OfficeWithoutWalls or @SASFitPractice

Owners and founders of closely held businesses often involve married couples. Therefore, a consideration that all owners of these businesses should consider is the need for premarital agreements or “prenups,” which come in all shapes and sizes under U.S. law. A well drafted premarital agreement will take into account the particular needs and interests of the parties it is intended to protect. For business owners considering a prenup, there are a few areas of concern that deserve particular attention, issues that their counsel have a responsibility to keep in mind during the negotiating and drafting phases; particularly, the following:

 

  • Providing adequate financial disclosures regarding the value of the company and its business to counter any potential legal challenge that may be brought later;
  • Protecting any confidential information to be disclosed during the negotiations;
  • Restricting spouses’s access to the company’s material business documents in the event of a future legal dispute; and
  • Trying to ensure that the business owners retain exclusive rights to the ownership and management of the company in order to provide for the succession of the

 

  1. Disclosure Regarding the Value of a Closely Held Business

The value of a closely held company (and its business) may not be easy to determine, and under Maryland law there is no obligation for a spouse to obtain a formal appraisal for purposes of negotiating or entering into a prenup. Generally, a good faith statement of value stated as a range or estimate of value is adequate where an exact value is not readily ascertainable; provided, however, that when the value is stated as book value the premarital agreement should include an acknowledgement that the value may be higher. See Head v Head, 477 A.2d 282 (Md. App. 1984).

A business owner who assumes that because his or her spouse has knowledge of the business means that his or her spouse also knows the value of the company/business is making a regrettable, and an avoidable, mistake. There are a variety of options available to provide adequate disclosure in order to avoid any confusion or future legal challenge based on inadequate disclosure. For example, a business owner can provide in the prenup information such as gross and net revenue of the business, ownership interests and percentages, compensation paid to insiders and others in the business, and financial statements, such as income statements or tax returns, cash flow statements and profit-and-loss statements to support his or her spouse’s knowledge, whether constructive or actual, at the time the prenup was executed. The bottom line is that when accessing the value of a closely held business for purposes of a premarital agreement, the business owner who fails to provide meaningful and adequate disclosure of all known data and material facts does so at his or her own peril, and may jeopardize the validity of the prenup itself.

 

Counsel drafting a premarital agreement for a business owner can best serve his or her client by taking the time to get familiarized with that client’s business and the business organization, management,

 

and relationships with relevant third-parties like CPAs and financial advisors. As a part of getting to know its client, counsel should also inquire as to the existence of any past appraisals conducted on the company and its business or any of the major assets used in the company’s business.

 

If prior appraisals have been obtained, counsel should have a full understanding of those appraisals and their results. Other recommended inquiries include whether the business has received any purchase offers, whether there are any plans to conduct a public offering or other material reorganization, or whether the controlling business owner has made a personal statement of net worth. Information gathered during that process will be helpful in developing a plan for the statement of the company’s value. Furthermore, counsel needs to remain cognizant that the existence of contemporaneous documents and information will be discoverable in the event of future litigation. Accordingly, the valuation, conclusions and disclosures in the premarital agreement should be reasonably consistent, and not materially conflict, with other valuations or statements of value conducted around the same time on the company and its business.

 

1.Waiver of Financial Disclosure

Parties may waive financial disclosures by agreement. And a waiver should include an acknowledgement that the recipient had the opportunity to ask for more information or documents and that the recipient either declined or acknowledged that he or she was satisfied with the information received from the company and her spouse, and that he or she received sufficient relevant information to make an informed decision prior to signing on the dotted line.

2. Addressing Privacy Concerns and the Disclosure of Financial Data

Disclosures regarding a business can often include information that the owner would prefer be kept confidential from current and/or future family members, or from the public at-large in the event of future litigation. Concerns such as these can be addressed in advance, and possibly prevented, by utilizing a few approaches, such as the following:

  1. Disclosing each party’s net worth in the aggregate without an itemized list of
  2. Providing Business and financial records for inspection but not allowing the other party (or counsel) to retain any copies. In these circumstances, the agreement should identify each of the documents provided for review and the receiving party should be required to sign a waiver acknowledging their examination and
  3. Including a provision requiring both parties to maintain confidentiality of all financial information received from the other party, and for the disclosure schedule to be submitted to a court in any future dispute under seal and with a protective
  4. Counsel for a business owner should strongly consider requiring the execution of a confidentiality (or non-disclosure) agreement prior to making any material

3. Bulletproofing the Agreement

The same legal standards that apply for validity to a premarital agreement executed by a business owner as by any other contracting party. A business owner however must take into consideration his or her unique vulnerabilities when it comes to potential future challenges. When there is a big disparity between the parties, not only in wealth, but in experience, education and bargaining ability, a business

owner can be opening the door for claims of duress or undue influence. The following steps and actions can help prevent such allegations:

 

  1. The party seeking to establish the prenup should make his or her requests well in advance of the intended date the agreement is to be executed;
  2. The party seeking the prenup should encourage the other party to obtain counsel. Appropriate representations and acknowledgements should be put in writing and made throughout the negotiating and drafting process, especially where the receiving party fails to act or refuses outright to obtain any legal representation;
  3. Ideally, the business owner should make an adequate written financial disclosure to his or her

4. Protecting Exclusive Rights to the Business

Parties to a premarital agreement can agree in advance to whatever substantive terms they desire with respect to the disposition of property upon divorce unless the agreement is deemed to be unconscionable at the time of execution. So long as an agreement is not deemed to be unconscionable, then nothing should prevent parties from agreeing to terms, and entering into an agreement, that permits one party or the other, or both parties, to retain exclusive rights and interests in an existing business, or even to any business that is acquired in the future. It is extremely difficult to prove unconscionability at execution, however, because under Maryland law the challenger must prove both substantive unconscionability (extremely unfair terms) and procedural unconscionability (an extremely unfair process).

 

A business owner will be best served by engaging counsel who tries to balance everyone’s interests and make the process between the parties (i.e., separation and divorce, if it comes to that) as fair as possible at the time the agreement is executed. Counsel should take adequate steps to document and record the efforts that were taken in this regard in case of any future legal challenge. Finally, the terms of a premarital agreement should take into account any economic disparity (potential or real) between the parties and include provisions that create economic security for both sides, making it harder to bring later any challenge alleging that the agreement is unconscionable. Simply because there is a disparity between the parties may not be sufficient in itself. An agreement that perpetuates an existing disparity is not unconscionable. It is imperative that a party to a prenup engage appropriate legal counsel to ensure the parties’ arrangement and premarital agreement is tailored to the needs and wants, and protection, of that party.

 

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC
www.saslawoffices.com

 

www.OfficeWithoutWalls.org/blog

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com;

Twitter: @SAS_Law;

IG: SahmraStevensonEsq;

Facebook: @SASLawOffices;

 

(Making the transition to full or part-time remote/virtual office work takes some courage and the willingness to get uncomfortable.  While my transition was more of an overnight experience, the gradual approach of slowly breaking-away from relying on the four-walls of your office tomb can be beneficial to anyone unsure of what they need to make their virtual office work for their goals.  This week my posts will explore four simple ways to baby-step your way into thinking about working without walls: 1. Identifying and starting with high productivity days; 2. Explore alternatives to in-person meetings; 3. Establish and out-of-office communication and workflow; 4. Clearly define your workspace in advance.)

Part2:_ Explore Alternatives to In-Person Meetings

Most in-person meetings are productivity killers in my opinion. Unless being run in drill-sergeant fashion with a strict eye on the clock and the agenda, they often veer off into side conversations about semi-related subject matter that has no immediate utility and derails productivity.

Video chats and conference calls are some of the more obvious work around options. Most know about services like FreeConferenceCall.com, Google Hangouts, Uberconference.com, and Zoom.com that allow for free connection options by both voice and video chat. There are a host of others, both free and paid that can easily be explored in a Google search. But even conference calls can be a drag on your day and time. How many times have we all been on a call that could have very well been an email?

And emails are great, but one less discussed option is the underutilized traditional voice memo (not to be confused with voicemail which nobody uses anymore either). It’s more personal and less time consuming than an email, but also doesn’t require the person to be present in the exact moment, so you are able to communicate your thought or idea effectively in your own space and time. Most cell phones have an app built in for voice this function or you can explore Apps such as SimpleMic, and QuickVoice Recorder, that work for uploading straight from phones, tablets and accessories like the Apple Watch.

At #SASLaw we rely on software options and online collaboration tools that virtually eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings during the day. There are a host of options to explore based on your team’s size and needs. Some have overlapping feature; however each offers a different type of service from task management to instant messaging to document “templating.” For team work and project management I rely on Asana (Asana.com). Comparable platforms like BaseCamp and Slack are also offer good team organization and communication options. You can also collaborate with apps like Trello which have an online function too if you want to work from the computer instead of the phone.

Adopting these practices does not need to wait until you’ve physically removed yourself from a brick and mortar office. These are simple ideas you can start playing around with today. If you’re going to be making that leap to remote life it is still important to meet in-person with your team on a routine basis (see my article Five Easy Ways To Keep Your Remote Team Mindful & Motivated ). However, you can increase your productivity by 30-50% when you incorporate alternatives to the traditional face-to-face interactions with your team.

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com; Twitter: @SAS_Law; IG: SahmraStevensonEsq; Facebook: @SASLawOffices; www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org

Making the transition to full or part-time remote/virtual office work takes some courage and the willingness to get uncomfortable.  While my transition was more of an overnight experience, the gradual approach of slowly breaking-away from relying on the four-walls of your office tomb can be beneficial to anyone unsure of what they need to make their virtual office work for their goals.  This week my posts will explore four simple ways to baby-step your way into thinking about working without walls: 1. Identifying and starting with high productivity days; 2. Explore alternatives to in-person meetings; 3. Establish and out-of-office communication and workflow; 4. Clearly define your workspace in advance.

First things first….

Part 1.: _Start With A Few High Productivity Days.

No matter how easy it is for you to try something new, you will undoubtedly run into speed bumps and hurdles along the way.  If you want your virtual or remote work to work for you and to truly benefit from the experience, position yourself accordingly. Start by working remotely for one or two days a week to ease yourself into a new routine and ween yourself off your traditional comforts and surroundings.

If it’s up to you, try and choose days that best guarantee you experience a good outcome with your off-site work day, or days of the week.  The days of the week can change as you find your rhythm and start identifying the benefits and goals of remote work that are personal to you but stick with the same one or two days for several weeks in a row to give yourself enough time to collect data about what works for you and what doesn’t.

If you are accustomed to the standard M-F week and you are just getting started with working off-site one or two days a week, maybe lean towards what you know until you get comfortable with your new normal. When choosing your high productivity days consider staying away from Mondays and Fridays as a jumping-off points because of their tendency to blend into the weekend.

As your new working world and style begin to evolve and you become more comfortable working without walls you’ll notice a reduced reliance on tangible items that weigh and slow you down like paper, files and supplies. You’ll notice an increased reliance on the basic skill-sets like writing and research that make you a good practitioner to being with, and you’ll see a positive difference in your attitude and approach towards work and billable hours which translate into better business and a happier you.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: Exploring alternatives to the time suck of in-person meetings

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com; Twitter: @SAS_Law; IG: SahmraStevensonEsq; Facebook: @SASLawOffices; www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org

Five Easy Ways To Keep Your Remote Team Mindful & Motivated

Do you rely on work from employees who spend some or all of their time working away from your office? If you’re like most business managers the answer is undoubtedly “yes.”

More American employees are working remotely according to a recent Gallup survey of more than 15,000 adults.  According to the survey, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. An increase in remote employees means a related increase in the need for effective remote office and employee management.

Big growth of remote work presents big challenges to traditional management styles. Often, these center around face-to-face conversations and observing whether an employee appears to spend a lot of time at his or her desk. How can you make sure remote employees stay on track when you don’t see them every day?

The answer is a combination of changing management practices and adopting technology that gives managers insight into employee activities and vice-a-versa.

Here are some tips for successfully managing remote workers, from Your Happy Family Law Attorney:

  1. Focus on what, not when.

We all work differently. Remote workers are no different.  Many remote workers create tailored schedules based on when they are the most productive.  I tend to do my best work at the very beginning of the day during the early morning hours when most people are still asleep. An then again later on in the evenings around the time most of the “normal world” is siting down to dinner.

Rather than micromanaging when employees are getting work done, focus on what they are doing well, and consistently achieving. If deadlines are being met, and work quality is up to par there are more important things for you as the boss to be thinking about.  Not only will you end up with better productivity in the long term, but also happier, more engaged, trusting and confident employees.

  1. Share and streamline activity tracking.

Why has the number of people working in a virtual office space has doubled in recent years? Because it’s easier than ever to work from home and use software to collaborate online and keep your team focused, organized and on task.

Just because you’re in a different city or even time zone doesn’t mean you can’t still communicate and work together as if you were in the same room. My team and I rely on Asana for our team collaborations and project tracking.  Asana looks and acts like an email inbox but groups projects with the ability to add due dates, “likes” and stars for essential items in one place. It integrates with some other third-party sites including Google Drive and Slack. Many well-known organizations like Uber and The New Yorker use Asana, so that’s a good sign that this tool is pretty popular.

Other virtual tools to explore include:
For task management -Proof Hub, Trello, Basecamp;
For Project/Task Management -Wrike, Slack, NutCache, Teamwork.com
For Collaboration/Communication -Sococo, GLIP Kanban Tool

  1. Make sure everyone knows they are a part of the team.

Keeping remote employees in-the-loop is essential.  How you do so will vary based on the number you have, whether you have on-site employees as well and your overall management style. Important things to keep in mind include having a quick and easy means of communication available, remembering to ask employees for their input where appropriate and including remote employees in important processes and decision making for the business.

  1. Establish a time and method for regular check-ins.

Obviously, individualized work schedules, not to mention time-zone differences, if applicable, can make it difficult for other employees to reach remote workers when they need to. The solution, is to work with remote employees and establish some times when they will be consistently available to respond to phone calls, email, or other messages–rather than try to shoehorn them into an established schedule that may not be the best for their work patterns or home situation.

Weekly one-on-ones are a must for effectively coaching all your staff, but they’re especially important for remote workers. They don’t have the same opportunity to pop into your office or have happenstance encounters in the break room to ask a quick question. In addition to a scheduled time to talk, find mutually beneficial ways to check in at other times. That may include chat, text messages, or looking for times that are convenient for a quick talk.

How often should you check in with each remote worker? The right answer will vary depending on the remote worker’s job, personality, experience on the job (or lack thereof), and your company culture. In general, I think it’s a better idea to err on the side of check-ins that are too frequent because if they prove unnecessary you can always cut back. Whereas if they don’t happen often enough, increasing the frequency may lead to an awkward conversation about why more monitoring is needed.

  1. Get to know remote employees as people.

A remote office culture can only be built with intention and consistent action.  Without daily in-person interactions to rely on, getting to know your remote work staff is going to take some effort. Engaging for purposes other than discussing current projects is a good start.

As a boss or manager you should be in touch with what drives or depletes their passion and enthusiasm, as well as their aspirations short and long term.  A healthy working relationship is one that allows both employers and employees the opportunity.

  1. Schedule regular face-to-face encounters.

Scheduling face-to-face meetings with remote workers at least once per quarter is a good minimum guide, Grosse says. “n-person interactions with the broader team help build better camaraderie and eliminate mistrust. I like to host what I call family dinners with my team. We work and support each other like a family and its important that our off-duty interactions incorporate similar principles. Beyond that, our get togethers are a great time to focus on career objectives and performance, and ultimately form a stronger bond.

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq. (“Your Happy Family Law Attorney”)

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com; Twitter: @SAS_Law; IG: SahmraStevensonEsq; Facebook: @SASLawOffices; www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org

 

A Parents most important job is to demonstrate to their children how to live a fulfilling and happy life.  Here are two simple suggestions that might boost your happy family practices overnight.

  1. Nurture Your Happiness

While we can’t control our children’s happiness, we are responsible for our own. And because children absorb everything from us, our moods matter. Happy parents are likely to have happy kids. Consequently, one of the best things you can do for your child’s emotional well-being is to attend to yours: carve out time for rest, relaxation, and, perhaps most important, romance.

Nurture your relationship with your spouse. If parents have a really good, committed relationship the child’s happiness is more likely to naturally follow.

If you and the opposite parent are not in a romantic relationship at this time, tend to your “co-parenting needs” instead, such as: cleaning house and communicating grievances; updating each other on emergency contact lists and other important documents; planning ahead for school and summer vacation time and access…. the start of the year is a perfect time to embark on some of these.

2.     Practice Habitual Gratitude

Happiness studies consistently link feelings of gratitude to emotional well-being. Research at the University of California, Davis, and elsewhere has shown that people who keep daily or weekly gratitude journals feel more optimistic, make more progress toward goals, and feel better about their lives overall.

For a child, keeping a journal may be unrealistic. But one way to foster gratitude in children is to ask that each member of the family take time daily — before or during a meal, for example — to name aloud something he or she is thankful for. The important thing is to make it a regular ritual.

Happy parents truly do raise happy children. How can you experience more joy today? How can you set a great example of happiness for your children? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.
S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC
Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com;
Twitter: @SAS_Law;
IG: SahmraStevensonEsq;
Facebook: @SASLawOffic
es;
www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org

 

 

Civility In Family Law: 5 things that can keep your clients on the right side of the line

Set Reasonable Expectations by Educating the Client:
Clients need to know the likely outcomes of the parenting and financial issues based on statute and case law. It is much easier for a client if they know what is likely to happen at the beginning of a case rather than being surprised in court when the judge makes a ruling. It is also more efficient to negotiate final settlements if the client knows the parameters of the possible outcomes at trial.

Client education should begin at the very first meeting and does not end at the conclusion of your case. Completing your job sometimes requires follow-up on important issues that the client likely has no idea how to predict (e.g., opening a file with the Office of Child Support Enforcement so that support payments can start; or completing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and what to expect when awards from a former spouse’s pension finally pay out).

Lastly, an educated client is easier to work with and more likely to return. If clients recognize your advice as being valuable, worthwhile, and easy to follow, they are more likely to follow your lead as you shine a light on the best path. If you are in the practice of sending out newsletters to keep clients up-to-date, or establishing your social media presence and brand, identifying yourself to your clients as a trusted advisor, (hint hint) during the representation is an important place to start.

Avoid Dramatic & Over-the-top Pleadings:
It can be tempting to turn on the dramatics when drafting a pleading, especially with a set-of facts that get you fired up or maybe where you feel a need to embolden a less assertive client.  I rarely meet a client who isn’t on board with being aggressive in pleadings. But coaching clients to maintain a civilized tone in a Family Law case can reduce conflict between the parties and enhance your client’s image before the court. Focus on the facts and thoroughly explain the facts to the court without too many negative opinions, assessments and judgments.

I like to remind clients that their pleadings are a matter of public record and that potentially anyone can get their hands on them I the future. I ask them if they really want their business “out in the streets” and impress upon them that litigation is a process with a time and place for everything including detailed storytelling, which is best done in the courtroom in front of the trier of fact.

In submitting statements to court, a civil attorney should ask their client to simply tell the court what the person did without all of the pejorative terms. For example, accusing someone of having “violent tendencies” when the person has never engaged in violent behavior is inflammatory. Courts also find unpersuasive extreme statements, like calling someone a “liar” when there is no clear proof of this and stating opinions, such as saying “he doesn’t really care about our children” or “she is a psychopath.”

But what about when these kinds of statements are hurled at your client instead?

Lead By Example -Take the High Road:
One of the most difficult aspects of family law arises when the opposing party or their lawyer engages in high-conflict behavior, such as making insulting statements in court or in pleadings, involving the children, spewing misinformation to third parties, repeating unfounded accusations, providing details of indiscreet behavior to others, calling a person’s workplace, and/or not complying with court orders. The client’s first reaction might be to demand that the attorney make the opposing party or the other attorney stop or perhaps to retaliate by engaging in the same sort of behavior. It is always better to advise a client to “take the high road.”  To reduce conflict and keep matters civil, the Family Law attorney should advise the client that those behaviors do not assist in settling their case and usually make things worse. In addition, those tactics and choices will greatly increase their attorney fees.

Explain and Encourage Alternatives:
Explaining the alternatives to trial can bring a huge sense of relief to the client. Clients should know about these alternative processes so they can make informed choices. Often once the legal process starts, communication between the parties deteriorates quickly and the client has a hard time focusing on where they want to end up.

Parties can participate in a collaborative law process or use early mediation to resolve their family law disputes. The parties can also jointly hire or consult with neutral financial and/or parenting experts. Some options may not be advisable if there has been domestic violence or other issues that would make a cooperative approach unworkable.

Limit Family Input:
To be able to proceed in a civil manner, the family law attorney should limit declarations and involvement of grandparents, parents, and new romantic interests unless absolutely necessary. It is important for clients to understand that when we ask a family member to write a declaration or testify in court for our client, we are likely jeopardizing that person’s future relationship with the other spouse or partner, and as a result their relationship with the children when the children are with the other spouse or partner.

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.
S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC
www.saslawoffices.com

www.OfficeWithoutWalls.org/blog
Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com;
Twitter: @SAS_Law;
IG: SahmraStevensonEsq;
Facebook: @SASLawOffices;

 

 

 

 

 

Leaders Leave Legacies:

Most leaders don’t leave legacies. When they leave an organization or other leadership position, their memory leaves with them and their names are never to be mentioned again.  Others leave negative legacies, and we all know who those folks are, even though sometimes we would rather not.  So what about the ones that leave powerful, lasting impressions on others? The ones whose legacies live on well beyond their tenure?

5 Ways To Leave A Positive Legacy:

We live in a culture that is constantly asking “what have you done for me lately?” You may not be remembered long for your results as a leader because success is a moving target.  Next year, next month, next week, there is always another goal to reach whether you’re there or not.

This serves as a gentle reminder that creating a positive impact is more about who we touch than what.  Impressions are deeper when we take the time to connect, develop and inspire.  Caring about this is a higher mission as a leader.

Creating a positive impact doesn’t happen by accident and it does not happen overnight. The following 5 strategies are examples of how you can work towards leaving your own impressions, however meaningful you wish them to be.

  1. People over results

Most of us are familiar with the quote by Maya Angelou… “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As a matter of fact it’s the first thing that pops up when I google her name, so that seems like a healthy place to start.

In a few months, your team won’t remember whether you hit this week’s goals, some probably won’t even care.  What they are going to remember is how you made them feel while trudging the happy road to victory.  Pay attention to any habits you’ve built when speaking to your team. Are you constantly focused on the business of things, or do you take time to ask “how are you?” A team member that feels you’re invested in their future is more likely to be genuinely invested in yours and the future of your business.

  1. Connect in person

Because I manage a virtual and mobile practice, technology is a necessity for me on a daily basis. But no matter the advancements in technology that are to come, I don’t believe there will ever be a substitute for actual human interaction.  I’m talking about that good face-to-face, reach out and touch somebody interaction.  People know the difference and appreciate the added effort it takes, especially given that we all have a wealth of alternatives that can probably produce a passable substitute to in-person meetings. Balance is the answer and awareness is the key.  Your positive legacy can only be perpetuated by positive human interaction.

  1. Investing time and money

Investing in the personal and professional growth of your team is fundamental.  When you invest time and, even money where appropriate, your team will be able to have more success and make an even bigger impact.  Ask your team to propose areas they would like to develop and follow-through with making it happen. It’s a win-win all the way around.

  1. Control less; empower more
    With some things, you just won’t know until you let it go. This is true when it comes to leadership and control.  You can’t know what your team is capable of unless you’re willing to let them take responsibility for their work.  This might scare you, but it’s the kind of behavior that separates the boys from the men.

You might be convinced that stepping out of frame will result in everything falling apart. But what if it doesn’t? What if your example is enough. Teach your team to make intelligent gambles, think critically and help them improve along the way. Work will become more enjoyable and less burdensome for everyone involved.

  1. Model behavior you want to see

Your team learns more from watching what you do than from listening to what you say.  Invite them to attend meetings and include them on calls so they can get a feel for what you do and how. Make sure you’re modeling the behaviors you’d like them to embody. Be humble enough to allow them to give feedback, you would be surprised what others can see that you can’t.

Now get to work! Legacies don’t create themselves.

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.
S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC
Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com; Twitter: @SAS_Law; IG: SahmraStevensonEsq; Facebook: @SASLawOffices; www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org