family law attorney

Lynna Moen’s Campaign Kickoff

Posted by Heidi Risser
on July 23, 2019
Lynna Moen and I laugh and smile at the camera.
Who said lawyers can’t have a good time?

I attended the kickoff of Lynna Moen’s campaign for District Court Judge 2020.  The event was held at the offices of Miller Bowles Law, PLLC.  The speeches were short but impactful. 

I have worked with Lynna for years and have deep respect for her as a person and as an attorney.  However, until they read her resume, I had no idea how accomplished she really is. 

There were a lot of family law attorneys at the kickoff, because we want more district court judges with family law experience.  It’s not always enough just to have some familiarity with the statutes and cases, it really is helpful to have practiced in this area and to have a feel for the clients and their families.  Lynna has that. 

Laura Burt and me smile at the camera
The Charlotte family law community is very tight knit, and we love getting together!

Some people may think family lawyers all dislike each other, especially if you just watch us in court.  In reality, many of us enjoy each other’s company.  Looking at the pictures, you can tell we were having fun.

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Changing the Culture of Divorce

Posted by Heidi Risser
on May 23, 2019

Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals (CCDP), which is the local collaborative family law group, had it’s last meeting of the year on Thursday evening. 

Ashley-Nicole Russell inspired me to continue to advocate for collaborative method when helping couples going through divorce.

CCDP brought in an author and collaborative family law attorney to speak.  Ashley-Nicole Russell shared her experiences running a collaborative family law practice with offices in Greenville, Raleigh and Atlantic City, NC. 

In terms of commitment to collaborative practice, she was speaking to the choir in our group.  However, she had a lot to offer with regards to statistics on what a contentious, court-room divorce battle can do to the children involved. 

Her statistics showed that children of divorce have an increased chance of alcohol dependence and suicide, among other ill effects.  Ashley-Nicole is on a mission to change the culture of divorce, especially since she experienced her own parents’ divorce and the trauma it brought to her life. 

She encouraged us to “sell” the collaborative method shamelessly to our clients and other attorneys, because it is better for the family and especially for the children.  She also offered some great advice on marketing the collaborative practice. 

I wasn’t sure what we were in for when I decided to attend the dinner, but I left inspired.  Since I began to practice collaboratively, I have always believed in its virtues, but it was nice to receive an inspiring pep talk from a fellow practitioner.

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Charlotte Museum of History Benefit Dinner

Posted by Heidi Risser
on May 14, 2019

I attended a benefit for the Charlotte Museum of History last week, as the guest of my friend, Deborah Hampton.

While I was there, I ran into some folks in my law school class—Tamika Shafeek-Horton, Amy Hinshaw and Chris Brady. 

I was able to spend time with my friends (from left) Amy Hinshaw, Tamika Shafeek-Horton, and Deborah Hampton.

I toured the Hezekiah Alexander house, which dates back to 1774.  Hezekiah Alexander served as a local magistrate and leader during the time following the Revolutionary War, when the British were no longer governing the colonies. 

I loved meeting some of Deborah’s friends at this event!

It is amazing that we have preserved this historical site so close to the center of the city.  Still surrounded by woods, it was a leafy and lush site for the benefit dinner.

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Mediation Training with Sandra Lee

Posted by Heidi Risser
on March 22, 2019

Once again, I am training new mediators with Mark Riopel and Ketan Soni. We have another fantastic class of mediators. Our community is going to be filled with very experienced family law mediators.

My hope is that our clients will choose mediation instead of litigation to handle their family law issues.  To inspire everyone, Sandra Lee came to speak to the class.  She offered her view of mediation from the viewpoint of a non-lawyer mediator.  She has built up a thriving mediation practice over the years and helped thousands of people make better decisions about their lives and families. 

Sandra Lee and I stand side by side hugging after our mediation training.
Sandra Lee inspires students to write their own story of their divorce through empathetic and strategic mediation.

She gives the power to her clients, telling them that they can write the story of their divorce.  It can be peaceful through mediation and settlement, or it can be acrimonious through litigation. 

Sandra inspires me to give the power to my mediation clients, and to give them the credit when mediation succeeds.

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Walk and Talk: A New Way to Network

Posted by Heidi Risser
on February 21, 2019
My friend David Herring and I love to "walk and talk" to catch up on each other's practices.
My friend David Herring and I love to “walk and talk” to catch up on each other’s practices.

Networking is critical for any attorney to build and to maintain a law practice.  Most of the time, I have lunch or dinner with people.  Sometimes, I schedule a “walk and talk.” 

My friend and fellow collaborative family law attorney, David Herring, likes to go for a walk while we catch up on each other’s practice.  He and I have busy schedules, so we usually have to plan it a few weeks in advance. 

We meet up, usually at a convenient park, and walk around while we discuss current issues with collaborative law or running a law firm as a solo practitioner.  We have been doing this for over a year, and David and I really enjoy it.  It gets us out of our offices, and we get a little exercise in the fresh air. 

Networking with David was so nice, I had to capture it twice!
Networking with David was so nice, I had to capture it twice!

Coincidentally, I was reading in the Wall Street Journal today about “walk and talk” meetings.  The examples in the paper do not resemble what I am describing.  In the WSJ, everyone is dressed for an office setting, and it might be inconvenient to have a walking meeting in heels. 

Also, the WSJ described situations in which the boss just drops by a desk and requests a walk and talk meeting.  In my “walk and talks,” both of us are dressed to walk and the time and location are agreed upon far in advance. 

I think networking during meals is a great way to network, but I want to offer up this alternative, because not every networking meeting needs to involve food.

I would love to hear what you think of “walk and talk” meetings or other unconventional ways to network!

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Mediation Training at UNC Charlotte

Posted by Heidi Risser
on January 23, 2019

On Friday, January 11th, I had the opportunity to conduct a Mediation Training course, with Ketan Soni and Mark Riopel, for the department chairs of UNC Charlotte.  I was a little nervous to lecture in front of professional lecturers, but that nervousness was short lived.  The professors were very receptive to what we had to say.  I had a misconception going into this training that we family law attorneys deal with more serious issues and conflict than the department chairs of a university.  Was I wrong!  Given their reactions, I believe these department chairs deal with a similar level of conflict.  That means that this message about mediating conflict is more universal that I had believed.   

Mark, Ketan and I lectured for the first part of the day and conducted a few mock mediations at the end of the day, to give all the attendees some practice before tossing them back out into the world of conflict.  There are some very talented mediators among these professors.  Some are naturals, and some really incorporated our teaching into how they worked the problem.  As always, I was amazed at the various styles each person brought to mediation.  Some mediators used a bit of small talk to warm up the two sides.  Some used silence and observation to great effect.  I adore the fact that mediation is flexible to accommodate different styles and still be equally effective

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