In law school, family law is not spoken about much; it could be said some in the establishment considers it to be akin to ambulance chasing. However, Kelley believes that when a relationship breaks down those individuals are entitled to a better future, and her office can help them achieve that. She found that family law allowed her to cross her passion for litigation with her passion for counseling her clients.
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The first of our guests to be sat in front of an actual fire for our S’Mores conversation, Kelley is an attorney with her own family law firm (Rider Goodwin Law) and more recently launched a platform for divorce in Colorado for individuals who can’t afford full representation, Untie The Knot.
Untie The Knot came about during her time at Legal Aid when Kelley learned about the many individuals who can’t afford representation, leading to them making uninformed decisions based entirely on internet advice or from their friends and co-workers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem was amplified by more people wanting to get divorced, but also a large number of people losing their jobs at the same time.
COVID had broad impacts on the industry of divorce. Kelley’s firm all worked from home, but they had to find ways to recreate the confidential office bubble in the home environment. Further, the Courts were effectively closed in Colorado, meaning litigation could not happen, and more divorces actually ended up in settlements. If that were to become a trend, that could lift a lot of pressure from the Court system in the long term.
Fascinatingly, the judicial officers hate family law cases as Kelley explains they say they feel like they are the least informed person in the room making really important decisions about strangers. We need to spare a thought for the well-being of those officers too – the burnout rate from listening to domestic abuse cases every day must be crushing.
Kelley has interesting opinions about prenuptial agreements for soon to be married couples. For those that choose not to have one, Kelley wishes at least that couples would have a plan for what would happen to the children in case the worst happens.
Talking about the business of law, Kelley’s office is structured with a heavy number of attorneys, and one paralegal for every two attorneys. Some offices structure the opposite way. The attorneys don’t necessarily specialize in specific case types, but instead, do focus more on specific counties and their nuances.
At FIRESIDE we care a lot about the mental health of founders and business leaders. Kelley, of course, operates within an environment where her and her team are exposed to very hard topics. One coping mechanism that Kelley and her husband not to talk about the facts of a case at home but describes mental wellbeing as an ongoing process. Listen to Kelley talk about vicarious (or secondary) trauma similar to that experienced by first responders.
Kelley and Dax discussed a number of practical tips for creating some sort of boundary between work and home life, including using delayed delivery in Outlook for email, setting the right expectations with clients about when they’re reachable. Kelley quotes from a book (“The One Thing”) that states it can be 15-30 minutes to establish focus again after a distraction.
Kelley had never run a business before she established RGL. This led her to a coaching program for lawyers first, and then to become a member of EO Accelerator program, and now a fully-fledged EO member.
Additionally, Kelley has worked with a professional coach for the last 4 years. Her coach takes a high-level view, helping her refine her behaviors and make good decisions. She can measure the impact in financial terms, but also feels it through mindset growth.
It was very interesting to hear how Kelley is so very in tune with herself and her own personality and what motivates her. Her old coaching program was about fear and that is a paralyzing emotion for her. It was very generous of her to share her learnings and personal development.
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