Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Houston Chronicle article by Shannon Buggs

On June 1, 2009, Shannon Buggs wrote an article under "Assets & Values" in the Houston Chronicle about Divorce. In one column she attempted to cover, mediation, collaborative law, DIY divorces, social security issues, etc. Her attempt was excellent! She had limited space and she wrote so that the average reader could grasp what she was conveying. Unfortunately, each paragraph could have been a separate article itself. My only complaint would be the websites she listed for DIY divorces. I'm sure that she "googled" DIY and these were the top sites. It is difficult to compete against these national sites. Their budget is so much greater than mine. Unfortunately, I don't recommend any of these sites. Most of them are located outside of the State of Texas and they claim to be able to give you the forms needed to do your own divorce. They do not include any of the Texas State forms or county forms. They don't include Employer Withholding Orders. I guess that you get what you pay for. I began offering DIY kits to offer people an alternative to these out-of-state sites. My forms are based on the forms that I use for people that retain my legal services. I only sell a kit if I think it will work. I personally talk to each person before preparing the forms. I don't sell you blank forms. I fill in the information so that the forms look like what the judge expects to see. My kits start at $175 and go up to $1,000 -- depends on what I need to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Co-signing for a relative

I'm often asked about a person co-signing for a relative or friend. It might be a car, a credit card or a lease. If you co-sign for anyone, you are on the hook if the person does not pay. If the person destroys the apartment or vehicle, you are on the hook for the damage. If the person has been irresponsible in the past, what makes you think that they will NOT do it in the future. If you want to co-sign for someone, recognize that you are guaranteeing that this person will do what they said they would do. If they don't, the company will look to you 100% for payment. Be very careful if you co-sign. Be sure you have the money to pay if the person disappears or refuses to pay. If a person was irresponsible in the last 5 years, I strongly recommend that you NOT co-sign for the person. If they cannot afford the vehicle, etc., then why would you co-sign for the thing? Remember, something earned is much more appreciated than something easily attained. Some people expect to be given things. If you co-sign, recognize that you are basically guaranteeing that you will pay if the person does not perform. DON'T EXPECT THIS PERSON TO APPRECIATE ANYTHING! IN FACT, THEY WILL GET ANGRY AT YOU IF YOU EXPECT THEM TO PAY THE DEBT! LASTLY, I'M REALLY SERIOUS! THE PERSON WILL CUSS YOU OUT IF YOU EXPECT THEM TO PAY THIS DEBT. Somehow you will end up being the "evil" person.

What is a holistic Lawyer?

I'm often asked what a holistic lawyer is. Basically, I look at an the entire situation. I listen to the client. I ask lots of questions. I try to see the whole picture. I determine what the potential client wants to accomplish. I then explain to the potential client what I can legally do to accomplish what they want to accomplish. I often suggestions or alternatives to what they think they want. One of my favorite examples is when I received a call from a grown daughter. Her parents had been married over 40 years. Dad was accusing Mom of adultery. Dad is angry all the time. Dad had been hitting Mom. I asked the daughter a lot of questions. Had he always been angry? Had he hit her before? Had he had a physical recently? (Answers to all were - no.) After I learned that Dad had not been to a doctor for over 10 years, I suggested that Dad have a physical. I suspected diabetes, depression, stroke, demensia, Alzheimer's as possible problems. It turned out that Dad was a diabetic, depressed and had the beginnings of demensia. Instead of a divorce, Dad got on medication, and the entire family began counseling to help all the entire family adjust to aging parents. Most attorneys would have just done a divorce. It would not have solved the problems.

Steven Keeva's book "Transforming Practices" Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life

Steven Keeva was honored at the Chicago meeting of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers for the contribution his book made to the practice of law. It was a moving ceremony. I know that his 2 children thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave them an opportunity to see a different side of their dad from attorneys that they had never met. It was announced at the conference that the ABA has agreed to re-publish his book. I recently purchased a copy of the book & I highly recommend that every attorney read it. It is inspirational. I only wish that I'd read this book while I was in law school. It was originally published in 1999 and its relevant has grown ten-fold since its original publication. Steven Keeva was a visionary. It has a true honor to meet and share an evening with him. God bless Steven Keeva and his wonderful family!

International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers

Just returned from the annual conference of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers. This year in Chicago. I've gone 4 years in a row. Each conference has been unique and inspiring. Then I came home 3 years ago, I redid my website and business cards to reflect that I'm a "holistic lawyer". I finally came out of the closet! I expected snickers but instead it has been a brilliant marketing idea. People hear "holistic lawyer" and immediately ask "what's that?". It given me an opportunity to discuss my philosphy and to engage the person in meaningful conversation. I wish more attorneys would "come out of the closet"! If you are an attorney, I can only say...try it...you might like it!

As a parent never say never

There is a saying "make my words soft and sweet because tomorrow I may eat them". When it comes to children, this saying is definately true. My daughter is now finishing graduate school (ok -- I'm damn proud of her!!!) and she is going to share an apartment with a male. I never thought that her dad and I would both agree that this was a good idea. However, we've known him for several years and the security in the apartment they will be sharing is exceptional. As a parent, I have often "eaten" the words that I swore I would never say! So remember...be careful what you say you would NEVER say or do because tomorrow you might eat those very words! LOL!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Top 10 reasons to mediate

Why should you consider using mediation to resolve your legal problems: 1. usually it's free or inexpensive 2. it is fair and neutral 3. it saves time & money 4. it's confidenial 5. it avoids litigation 6. it encouarges cooperation 7. it improves communication 8. you are actively involved in resolving your conflict 9. it encourages creative solutions to your conflict 10. it is a win-win situation!