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January 01, 2018

From the Chair

Finding Our Way Over, Around, and Through Personal Roadblocks

By: Roberta S. Batley
I don't regret or fear my problems and roadblocks. They have made me brave and given me the opportunity to overcome them.

Debasish Mridha

The Family Advocate struck a gold mine with the topic of this issue and has given us much to think about and helpful solutions for our practices. In our cases, there are roadblocks of all shapes and sizes. For many, the divorce itself or the inability to have a child is the initial roadblock. What drew many of us to family law, even if  we could not enunciate it in our early practice, was the thrill of helping people over, around, or through a roadblock. We can often see and know that our client will be better off with the divorce behind them. We cannot wait to explain the legal aspects of adoption, surrogacy, or ova or sperm donation to help them find a way to have a child. In some ways, you could say that family lawyers love a good roadblock—after all, we are in the job of removing them!

What is interesting to me is the roadblocks we put up for ourselves. We all have a script in our heads about what we can and cannot do. We think we can’t put the  cell phone down, we can’t take time off, we can’t change our practice because we have always done it “this way.” As we age in this profession, we certainly seem to  put more of those roadblocks up for ourselves. The lawyers that inspire me the most are those who have “thrown off the bowlines.” Maybe they never thought that their practices would involve unbundling; maybe, like me, they never thought they would do assisted reproductive technology law; maybe they swore they would always be a sole practitioner and now they have found themselves with young energetic associates.

The practice of law has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Some of it has not necessarily been in a way that is comfortable to those of us who came of age in the more traditional years. Resistance at this point is futile. If you personally are the roadblock, I promise you that the world (and your clients) will find a way over, around, or through you. Even the most progressive, forward-thinking lawyers have something that is tripping them up personally or professionally.

In this still-new year, I challenge you to do something that is out of your comfort zone and to remove one of your roadblocks. Maybe you know instantly what that is or maybe you need to spend some time thinking about it. What one thing would effect change in your life? If that is too overwhelming, think of a small frustration and start there. During the Wellness program at our Beaver Creek fall meeting, we sat in a room full of family law lawyers and we meditated for a full eight minutes! It was not easy and many of us (me) had a hard time even sitting still that long. But—we did it. Since then, many of those who participated have told me they have incorporated meditation into their daily lives because they were so encouraged when the speaker told them to start with the smallest increment of time they could handle.

My friends, in this new year, my wish for you is to remove one of your personal roadblocks, no matter how small or how large. Let us personally feel the thrill you have for your clients when that roadblock is just a memory. I truly hope to see all of you at our spring meeting in Nashville, May 9–12, 2018, and let us celebrate our progress together! fa


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Bobbie Batley

Chair, Section of Family Law

Roberta S. “Bobbie” Batley ([email protected]) of Little, Gilman-Tepper & Batley P.A. in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the 2017–18 chair of the ABA Section of Family Law. She is a board- recognized specialist in divorce and family law in New Mexico, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and a trained collaborative family law attorney. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Advancement for the American Legal System.