Every divorce attorney knows the letter of the law. But some of the most effective “letters” at our disposal fall outside the conventional alphabet.
For me, I feel I’ve a bit of a secret weapon when it comes to trial strategies: helping my client visualize and believe in a positive outcome. This doesn’t mean guaranteeing that the case will come out exactly as they or even I hope. It does mean believing with all my heart that helping my clients prepare mentally and emotionally for what’s ahead is every bit as important as preparing them legally—and that part of that preparation is sharing with them my firm belief that all unfolds as it is meant to.
Recently, as I finished preparing a client for a big custody trial coming up quite soon, I said, “Okay, this isn’t legal advice, but it’s very, very important.”
Both she and her mother leaned forward in their chairs.
I looked into my client’s eyes and I said, “See yourself having your son with you. Know that the best is going to happen no matter what, for all involved. Feel confident that you’ve done your best. You’ve done all you can. Feel peace that you’re ready and that we will do our best. This case is not without challenges and I can’t promise we will win. But I know that we are going to do our best.”
I tell her this for her, and also for me. If you’ve ever become entrenched in an ugly custody battle, you know that it’s far too easy to pour all your energy, every bit of your heart, into making everything feel okay for your client.
But you’re not ultimately serving your client when you feed them so much of your energy that you leave yourself depleted, exhausted and stressed out. This case, the one I’m preparing for, is the kind of case that at one time would have sent me running for junky comfort food. These days, I know that my energy belongs with me and I’m visualizing that positive outcome… and I’m not doing it from the bottom of a bowl of processed cheese, the crumbs of leftover corn chips, and the better part of a whole bottle of wine.
I stay present, I stay focused, and I stay mindful of the result I want.
We may or may not prevail in this case. But in the battle in my head, the one between me and me, I’ve already won.