Recently, Leigh Daniel was published on the Elephant Journal for her article “Divorce for Optimists.”
In this article, she discusses how divorce can actually be refreshing and allow people to find themselves again. Whether they were in an abusive relationship, feeling unloved, or just not happy, this is a fresh start and an opportunity for them to find happiness.
In one such case my client had only dated the Mother for a few months. She became pregnant and he stayed as active in the pregnancy as she would allow. The woman had a history of mental illness and drug abuse. It had many years since she had received treatment but my client suspected she used over the counter medication to self medicate. He testified to erratic behavior and a former boyfriend testified to the same behavior when he was with her.
The parties had shared custody through the pendency of the case but my client ultimately was awarded primary custody of the baby. The best interest standard is the what the Court uses to determine who should be awarded custody.
This is not the first time I’ve represented Fathers who have children outside of marriage. I have had two other memorable cases that took several years to win custody but ultimately we prevailed.
Alabama Custody Attorneys: Let Us Help You
Here at Leigh Daniel Family Law, we believe that fathers have the same right to fight for custody as mothers. If you have any questions about your divorce or seeking custody of your child then please contact us at (256) 551-0500 and set up an appointment. Our practice serves Huntsville, AL and surrounding areas.
We all stood together in the Courtroom. A group of lawyers waiting to speak to the Judge about when our cases will be heard.
The only woman in the group, attempting to fit in with my colourful dress and shiny blonde hair. The men milled about in their dark suits and grim faces talking shop. The Judge walked in and we all came to attention. As he looked around and acknowledged us, his eyes stopped at me.
I moved closer and approached the Judge’s bench.
“Yes, Your Honour?”
He looked at me gravely and said, “Are you still practicing law? You’re pretty enough to be a Doctor’s second wife”.
Courtroom exploded with the laughs of the other lawyers. I flushed in humiliation before answering him.
“Yes, Judge, I’m still practicing and I hope I’m also a good lawyer”.
It still stings when I think back. I remember thinking, “Will I ever be taken seriously?”
Working within a male dominated industry can be intimidating and can cause you to question your own personal power. I worked at firms being the only woman lawyer for years. I could tell you stories of how I was propositioned, threatened with being fired if I didn’t have sex with my boss, and passed over for raises and promotions. But what I want to tell you is how to rise above it no matter how outnumbered you feel. Follow the next five steps to keep your confidence and thrive:
Recognise your worth
Don’t let what someone else thinks dictate your value. Your opinion is the only one that matters. Cultivate a strong sense of yourself and act on your strength.
Don’t take it personally
However you are being treated it isn’t about you. Any mistreatment of you is based on the bias and perceptions of the offenders.
Stand strong in who you are
When I first began practicing law I felt I had to be as aggressive and hostile as the men I was dealing with in negotiation and litigation. While litigation still brings out the fight in me, when I am speaking with my peers I’m grounded in being kind, having integrity, and being easy to work with.
Try not to engage in conversation that is disrespectful.
Maintain a sense of neutrality. You know who you are and you don’t need to stoop to anyone else’s level.
Forge your own success
When I was passed over for fulltime hire because, “Women don’t make good trial lawyers” I chose to go into practice for myself and have been a successful litigator for the last 23 years.
All of this isn’t to say that I haven’t had wonderful male colleagues, employees, and Court personnel. I’ve had countless great experiences in the male dominated industry of litigation. Your life and what happens to you are a direct reflection of how you think and feel about yourself.
Go out there and THRIVE.
About Leigh Daniel:
After almost 20 years of a high-flying career as a Divorce Attorney Leigh began to feel the heavy effects of divorce practice. Despite her successful practice and good reputation, she was filled with sadness. And so she began looking for ways to find happiness in the numerous books out there on “Being Happy”. One day Leigh came across an audio program “Playing the Matrix” by Mike Dooley. She was so impressed with it that she went on to his “Train the Trainer” conference in Seattle. And there, her life changed.
Leigh has written two books and co-authored another book. She have led numerous workshops with mastermind groups, spoken to high school students and corporate groups, and presented to hundred of peoples at Mike Dooley’s Infinite Possibilities Train the Trainer conferences. Most recently, she began coaching people and designing her own programs for clients, attorneys, and people who want a more positive and fulfilling life.
You want to be in a good mood. Seriously, you don’t really want to be grumpy, bitchy, hateful, or hostile. You are a nice person. Really, you are.
But life seems to conspire against you. Take for example a typical Monday morning, you wake up and it’s raining (again). You reach for something to wear and everything seems to be tight, ugly, and unfashionable. Did I mention your hair? It isn’t cooperating in the least! Oh well, it’s too rainy to be concerned. Time to leave, your walk to the tube station will be miserable. Once your there you have ages to go before you reach your stop. Once you’re at work, your co-workers are also gossipy and horrid. The work is boring and the clients or customers can’t seem to be pleased. You get the idea right? Being upbeat seems impossible when you’ve got life to deal with. It’s easy to be happy when you are hanging out with friends at a pub or watching a good film. Yet the real world, it’s well, real work.
I understand. I’m a divorce attorney who has been practicing law for the last 23 years. Do you want to talk about unhappy clients? Every person who walked in the door was angry! I got so accustomed to complaining along with them that it became second nature to me. Living in this space of finding what’s wrong instead of what’s right will take a toll on you and your ultimate desire to be a happy person. I know, I was miserable. But I found a solution.
It’s going to sound simplistic and maybe even a bit silly. Yet, give it a try and see how it transforms your life. We all have a choice with how we view the world. Take for instance the Monday above. Let’s see how it feels if we turn it around.
You wake up grateful that you a job to go to. It’s raining and that’s good because you’ve got an amazing trench to wear. You get ready and appreciate the way you look. You enjoy the walk because you know you are moving your body. The tube ride will end too soon because you’re listening to a great podcast or reading a great book. You are glad to see the people you work with they are eager to talk to you. The clients and customers are calling and coming in and you are so glad because it’s job security.
Which is better? Nothing has to change except you and how you see the world.
I remember when I first taught this principle to my co-workers. Admittedly, they believed I was nuts. How can we appreciate the clients who are so angry and irritable? I called a cease fire on all the negative banter and complaints in the office. One day my assistant called me, “Mr. Smith called. He’s so nice. He hung up on me. Which was great because he was cursing me.” I laughed and said, “Yea, Mr. Smith is a great guy.” I know it sound silly. But once you try it, you’ll see. Even the most atrocious things can seem funny to you.
Each of you, no matter what the circumstances you are in, have something to be grateful for and something to be happy about. When you start to complain, vent, rant, and rave – stop.
Turn it around. Remember, you are a positive, happy person who everyone wants to be around. It really starts with you!
About Leigh Daniel
Leigh Daniel is the founder of Project Positive Change. After almost 20 years of high-fly legal career, Leigh began to feel the heavy effects of divorce practice. Despite her successful practice and good reputation, she was filled with sadness. And so she began looking for ways to find happiness. After being impressed by an audio program called “Playing the Matrix” by Mike Dooley, she went on to his “Train the Trainer” conference in Seattle. From this starting point, she went on to create Project Positive Change, a global movement of positive change makers, all united in their belief that life can be created by design. Leigh is a published author, has led numerous workshops and presented to hundred of peoples. Most recently, she began coaching people and designing her own programs for clients, attorneys, and people who want a more positive and fulfilling life. For more information, please visit www.projectpositivechange.com.
Yes, I am a divorce lawyer but foremost my mission to help others achieve positive change. The area of family law is replete with opportunities to turn challenges into learning experiences and to provide a catalyst for a better life.
I was once in the position many of my clients are in. My husband was an alcoholic who was drunk before I came home every day from work. As a result I was stressed, scared of being able to make it financially, and ashamed of what my parents and friends would say about me. Leaving this relationship was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I remember standing in my closet while my husband threw shoes at me because he was angry about the Bar review course I wanted to attend. I felt small and afraid. I know from personal experience the clients I serve need a lot more than the documents we prepare.
They need a confidant, an adviser, an encourager, and an advocate.
Having positive change as my mantra means it is not winning but rather finding a solution or litigating a case to obtain a resolution that will take you to the next level.
I will never forget my first year of practice when I was cautioned by a much more experienced attorney that I would never be successful with my attitude.
I have thought of this many times over the last eighteen years of my practice. She wanted a win for herself. Many times what can go on a scorecard as a win for an attorney can be devastating to a family. Ego shouldn’t be the governing force in divining results.
There have been times when my integrity has been tested by potential clients who come in ready to file suit with checkbooks in hand. I have been given the advice, “Someone else will take the case.” But again, this is not the philosophy I live by. Filing a useless lawsuit to pad my pocketbook will only further more animosity between the parties and will cost both a bundle of money for nothing other than selfish gain on my part. Telling people what they need to hear whether they like it or not is part of practicing from a standpoint of positive change.
Choosing an attorney can be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Sometimes people want to save money by going with a cut- rate attorney who will serve up documents but that’s not who I am.
I give my client’s personal attention, my thoughts, my energy, and my positive outlook to their situation. They are not merely a file folder or a notch in my belt. The needs they have can’t be quantified by wins or how much or little it cost.
Instead the quality of their life and getting them through this dark time to the next one is why clients choose me.