Do you know where to start when it comes to finding an attorney who is good fit for you and who has experience dealing with any unique situations or issues you may have? Jennifer offers suggestions on how to do just that, including how to get attorney referrals, how to approach your initial consultation and the questions to ask that can help you make this very important decision.
About the Guest:
Jennifer decided at a young age to pursue a career in the law, telling friends and family members since she was a teenager that she wanted to be a divorce attorney. After earning her degree in Criminology and Political Science from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, she graduated from William Mitchell College of Law, where she worked as a research assistant for the Dean of the college.
Jennifer brings energy and compassion to her work, assisting clients with their personal matters, including family law. Jennifer is a trained member of the Collaborative Law Institute, helping clients divorce with dignity and respect. Where the collaborative process is not the right fit for clients, she provides advocacy through a court-based process. Jennifer listens to her clients to provide an individualized approach that best fits her clients’ goals and addresses their concerns.
About the Host:
Divorced after many years of marriage, Barb Greenberg founded Rediscovering U, a company that provides education, support, and resources for women transitioning through divorce and into a new life. She and her company have been recognized for “…creating equality, justice and self-determination for women…” She is an award winning author of 3 books, Hope Grew Round Me, After the Ball: A Woman’s Tale of Happily Ever After, and The Seasons of Divorce: Insights for Women in Transition. Her books are available at a special price for you at https://rediscoveringu.com/divorce-sponsors/books/ Barb would like to thank Joey Greenberg for his technical expertise and creativity. Without him, she’d still be thinking about starting podcast!
Visit https://rediscoveringu.com to learn more!
You can also find Barb at:
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Hello, and welcome to rediscovering you where you will find valuable insights, support and education to help you move through the difficult and often painful process of divorce with grace and courage and hope and find the ultimate gift of rediscovering yourself. I'm your host, Barb Greenberg, award winning author and founder of rediscovering you. If I'd had access to a resource like this during my divorce, I would have not felt so isolated, I would have made much better decisions, I still would have breathed for that for so hard for so long. And I wouldn't have eaten so many boxes of macaroni and cheese. When women heal, families heal. When families heal communities heal. When communities heal, the possibilities are endless. Let's get started.Barb Greenberg:
I'm so excited to welcome back family law attorney Jennifer Nixon. She's a gem. I love her bio. It she started she decided at a young age to pursue her career in the law. And I'll let her tell you about that because it's so darn cute. And she earned a degree first in criminology and Political Science, which I think is very cool. And then she graduated from William Mitchell College of Law. And she worked there as a research assistant for the Dean of the College, which I think is great. She brings I love reading this from her bio, because it's totally her. She brings energy and compassion to her work. She assists clients with their personal matters in with family law, and she's a trained member of the Collaborative Law Institute as well. So she's always helping clients divorce with dignity and respect in whichever way it needs process it needs to be. And she can also advocate through corporate base do litigation if necessary. She listens to you guys. She listens to her clients. She provides very individualized approach that fits what's best for you and your family. I love that. And she just has a new puppy. So I'm going to have to have her tell you about that. That's also an important part of the bio I think. So. Take it away. Jennifer, welcome, first of all, welcome. I'm really excited that you're here. And I'm excited to be here. Oh, cool. So the important things first, why you decided to be why and when you chose to become a family law attorney, and then your dog. Those are the two priorities first, and then we'll get into the juicy stuff.Jennifer Nixon:
So I decided I wanted to be an attorney when I was 13. I said that I wanted to be a divorce attorney at 13 years old. I'm not sure where that came from. But that was what I wanted to do. And I I don't know. I don't know for sure what the reasoning was at the time, but it has become the I really wanted to help people. It's people talk about oh, geez, divorce attorney. Right. But it's you really are helping people through a difficult time. And by the end, I always say that my favorite part is to be able to call and say that the judge signed that you're divorced. That's, that's my favorite part of a case. Because it is it is usually a very happy call, that it's over, it's time to move on to the next stage of your life. So that was that's why I doBarb Greenberg:
what I do. That's wonderful. That you know, that's wonderful. And that's why you're a good attorney. That's why you're such a good attorney. Because the there's a purpose. It's not just billion hours, there's a purpose to what you're doing and making a difference. So yay. And then tell us about little Frankie just real quickly. Oh, so I have aJennifer Nixon:
new puppy. His name is Frankie. He is a pug. He's a troublemaker, but you can't be mad at him for too long because he's so cute. He's only three months now and probably six pounds or something. So he's he's a tiny, tiny little one.Barb Greenberg:
So can you tell him I love Jennifer. She's got both. She's got the technical expertise and this huge heart. So what could be better? And today we thought we would share I wanted Jennifer to share we talked about it together. First of all, how to find an attorney I had in the olden days. This is how long ago this was somebody said I just opened up the Yellow Pages and pointed at a divorce attorneys name and call which is not the way to choose an attorney. And for me, somebody just said you need to talk to this guy. He should be your attorney and I went okay. I So there's probably much better ways to go about finding an attorney if you don't have one yet. So I'm gonna let you share some really good information about that, please.Jennifer Nixon:
Sure. So he talked about, you know, looking through the, you know, just finding a name right and calling somebody. And that that can that can work. I mean, I think a good way is kind of the way that you ran into your attorney is to ask people, you know, if there's somebody that you know, that has gone through this process, you know, see if they would refer their attorney, or if they know somebody that they will refer. I think that a referral is always a great testament to who that attorney is, right? They, the, the somebody has been through the process with them. And so they and the fact that they would refer that person to to help their friend or their family member through it, to me, that's a big compliment. And I think that that is a testament to that attorney too. But you know, there is you can google and a lot of people do by their attorneys through through the Google machine, right. And that can definitely work. I and another another place that you might get a good referral to, is people that you talk to on a regular basis, people that you trust, so and those professionals that you work with, so your financial advisor, your CPA, a realtor or mortgage person, you'll your therapist, therapists do have divorce attorneys that they are in contact with. And I think that that that is also a good way to find somebody because you know that that somebody that the therapist is going to know you well, too. So those professionals that you trust, I think is a good way to good way to find, find some people to call.Barb Greenberg:
That's a great idea. And they can no and the person that referred me, he knew my personality, he knew the attorneys personality, and he said, Yeah, this is going to be a really good fit. And it, it was, it really was and the thought of having research on my own was, is I don't like following directions. So to actually go online and research something was very difficult for me. If you can do it, you guys go for it. So once you find the attorney, and you set up the consultation, what happens? What do you ask, what do you do? You know, can you buy bring the box of Kleenex with you? So you can cry? We will? How does it work?Jennifer Nixon:
Yeah, and I think the process is gonna depend really on the attorney that you're talking to, but but one thing I would say is to talk to a number of attorneys. So if you say got that referral, in your case, right, that worked out great, right, you got that referral with somebody that knew your personality knew the attorney and it worked out really well. But if you say or just on the Google machine, like I said, or, you know, if you are talking to your financial advisor or people like that, you know, it might be a good idea to to talk to a number of attorneys, and get a sense for kind of how they operate. And if you can meet them, if they are meeting in person, I think in person is probably the best for consultation. Right now, with all this COVID stuff. I've been doing a lot of zoom consultations, too. And I think that's something that I'll probably continue to do because it can it's so convenient for people to be able to just up on the computer and or on the phone, you know, if if, if all else fails, the phone phone certainly works. I think you get a better sense of somebody if you meet either in person or on Zoom. But I would ask them, you know, is there anything that you want me to bring to? Some attorneys might might want you to bring something I always say you don't have to bring anything. If bring your questions. That's that's what I really want to hear. For myself, personally, I started out with a very open ended question, tell me what's going on? Because I want to know what's most important and the biggest concern for you? And then yeah, what questions do you have, you know, what, what can I answer for you? You're, you know, you You're there to learn about that attorney and see if you are comfortable with them, and to get your questions answered.Barb Greenberg:
I like that open ended question because by the depending on what people say, you know, immediately what to focus on. Okay, so we talked about, or you shared about the best way to find an attorney and ask to if you need to bring anything and I loved your open ended question. about what's going on, because whatever comes out of the mouth first, you know that that's the biggest issue. Right? And so what else to what else is important to talk about or ask when you come to, to meet with an attorney? Consultation?Jennifer Nixon:
Yeah, yeah. I think the probably the most important thing that, you know, you're, you're interviewing somebody, right? And you're interviewing them to figure out is this somebody that I'm comfortable with and somebody that I would want to work with? And so, when you are going and when you're going through this process, it's more than just like what we do. It's more than just a legal process. And so but, but having that experience is obviously very critical. So I would ask them, you know, how much family law do you do? Or how much how many divorces? Do you do? Things like that. Now, if somebody asked me, How many divorces have you done? I don't know if I'd have to go back and count. But it gives you a sense for, you know, are they really in this area of law every day? Or is this something that, you know, they kind of do a little bit of everything, or, you know, maybe they take the one divorce here and who are there. And I do pretty much entirely family law. And so. So I think I'm a little bit biased when I say that I think it's important that you find somebody who does that. But But I do think that's important. Like I said, you you know that they are in this area of law every day. And they know the issues. And they know, like I said, it is more than just legal issues, though they understand they understand that. I think that's really important. If they're, you know, I said I asked an open ended question first, too. So if there are those things that are a little bit more unique about your case, ask them if they have experience with that. Something like if you're a business owner, if they have experience with working with business owners, that's that's an important thing. There's how to calculate your income for maintenance and child support is different. The if you are a business owner, with your spouse, and does that need to be wrapped up? Or does that is that going to continue? And how is it going to continue? Those things are unique issues. If you say I have a child with special needs, that might be something very unique to your case. That that again, impacts that impacts, of course, custody and parenting time and how that would look. But also, there could be income items that are unique to if you have a child with special needs and say, have government benefits, to make sure that they are cared for, that might be something that that they need to know about. So if you have those areas of that are very, that are unique to your case, and you want to make sure that you find somebody that has that experience, I would ask them about that. A big thing that I get a question about you. And I think it is very important does ask about cost. Because obviously you want to know kind of what you're getting into. And most attorneys do like a retainer up front, or I say an advance fee upfront. But ask them kind of how that works, what their initial retainer is, and then how they bill going forward. Most attorneys do bill based on some segments of an hour, you know, six minute intervals, 15 minute intervals, I don't know too many people that still do 15 minute intervals, but some do. So ask about how that works. And because again, you are going through a very emotional process, you want to know how you will communicate with your attorney to I tell people, it's what works best for you. I typically do a lot of email, but if you're a phone call person, I will do that. That's fine. You know, well, we'll accommodate that. And, and we'll I'll give you a call back. Or I'll I'll call you if I know that the or Barbara phone call person. So, you know ask about that. And also, will I be communicating with you? Or do you have a paralegal that I would be communicating with more? Or who should I talk to you? If I have certain questions, you know, should I go to the to the paralegal with this, should I go to the to you with this? You know, how, how does that communication work? And who do I talk to for certain things too. So I think that that kind of will give you an idea of how the relationship would goBarb Greenberg:
to that would clear up a lot of pathways you know, you know what's going where and where to find what? And what I love this like what is an attorney not and maybe you'll say this, but I just remember somebody saying, you know, we're not Your therapist, as much as we would love to be, we charge a lot more.Jennifer Nixon:
Right. And, you know, I listen a lot. I do. And and that's, I think part of the job. Because like I said, this is an emotional process. It's much more than just a legal case. So, I know that I listen a lot, and that's part of the job. But yeah, I do tell people, I'm, I'm not a therapist, and I don't have that skill set. Right. So if you need I tell people, you know, do you I ask people, do you have somebody else that you can talk to? Because this is such an emotional process? And yeah, I, I'm not going to be nearly as helpful as a therapist. I could listen. But But that's, that's not always what you need. You need you need more, more help? And somebody who Yeah, is not going to be as expensive as an attorney. So I recognize that we're expensive. Use us for you know, use us for that, that skill set. And not not somebodyBarb Greenberg:
who you can talk to.Barb Greenberg:
So it makes sense. And the other one that been on my I've always remembered this about your attorney supposed to tell you what you need to know, and that what you want to hear. That's not fun, you know, how do you do that? Or? Right? And do you? Do you make that? Is that something that people should be aware of when they go into a consultation, if the attorney isn't telling them? You know, if they want everything? And the attorney says, Well, you probably won't get everything. That's something that would probably be a good thing to be aware of when they go into a consultation, that it's not gonna work that way.Jennifer Nixon:
Right. Yeah. And I think I think if somebody tells you that, you know, it might not work out that way. You know, that might not be reasonable. I think that's a good thing. Because you're right, you you want somebody who's going to manage those expectations, because you would hate to get to the end of a process and think that you're going to get the world. And you don't I that I can imagine that that is incredibly frustrating. So to have somebody who can tell you, yeah, that that might not be reasonable and explain why, you know, tell, tell me why that's that, you know, that position might not work, or that that position isn't reasonable. I always I kind of pride myself on that i i try to educate my clients, you know, because this isn't my life. This is this is theirs. And they need to be comfortable with what with what is going on in their case, the decisions that we're making. And so I do, I explained, this is how spousal maintenance works. Because they should know that, or this is how child support is calculated and why we're calculating, calculating it this way. Those are I think getting that education is important toBarb Greenberg:
do you get a lot of pushback, or not so much.Jennifer Nixon:
Most of the time, people are pretty receptive. I mean, it depends, you know, I think, and that's something to think about, too, when you're going into a consultation. Is this the type of relationship that I want? You know, I always say that I work as a team with my clients. So I don't make decisions for you. But there are attorneys that will say, this is what we're going to do. If you are in a position that you just want to be told, You know what I want to be told this is what it is, then then then you should find somebody who will do that. So yeah, so think about, you know, do you want that more of that education piece? And are you getting that sense from that consultation? Or do you want somebody who's just going to say, This is what the deal is, this is what the law says. And so this is the position that we're going to take. Thinking about that? Who what type of professional you would want to work with, I think would be important to Yeah,Barb Greenberg:
that's a really good point. That's a really good point. This was wonderful. Is there anything else you want to share about this? BecauseJennifer Nixon:
the biggest thing I always tell people, I do consultations, where I don't hear from people again at all, or I hear from them a year later. And I always tell people that I'm just happy to see that somebody is represented, whether that's me or not, because this is a difficult process. It's a lot to figure out the law while you're also managing the emotional aspects of it. And because it is such an emotional process, I want to make sure that you find somebody that you're comfortable with. That is I think one of the biggest things to really look For, because you're going to be going through this with somebody, and you want to make sure that this is somebody that you trust somebody that you know that they're looking out for you and what your best interests are and what your positions are. So, I think that's, like I always I tell people, especially when they tell you that they're talking to other attorneys. Good. That's great. I like to hear that. Because I want people to be comfortable. And I think that's one of the biggest things, find somebody you're comfortable with.Barb Greenberg:
And I'm sure that was that was too for you that you're working with somebody who's a good fit as well, which makes your process easier, as well.Jennifer Nixon:
Right? Yeah. Yeah, I think that's that comes back to that, you know, do you want somebody who will work as that as the team more? Or do you want somebody who's gonna say this is the position? So, so yeah, that I, you know, we say that we're interviewing clients, too. Because I also want to make sure that's a good fit. Because I don't, I don't want you to be frustrated with it. So if if you want somebody who is who isn't, who's going to tell you more, this is what we're doing, then it's it might not be a good fit. And I would rather that you find somebody who will give you what you need, and have that representation, have somebody in your corner, even if it's not me, so well.Barb Greenberg:
And I liked at the very beginning, when you said that, you know, you are the person that's doing the interviewing that client is the person that's doing the interviewing, because it kind of balances out the power. You know, the we're, you're not the meek little person going in, please help me please help me, which kind of I mean, I was, that was me totally. But you have a little more power, at least making this decision. You know, that we're interviewing and it's your decision. And because a lot of times during your marriage for many women, you didn't have that voice. And now you have a voice, which sometimes takes a while to come back. And to be feel safe asking questions. I know that was for me, too. I can I ask a question and nobody's gonna think I'm silly or stupid or said something wrong or so it's a big deal to be able to go in to talk to an attorney and ask. Feels good. And then I have to have one other. Speaking of asking her what else go to the question. Can you see there? Explain that changes you see in women? Because I bet that's a huge gift. Yes. Yeah.Jennifer Nixon:
So it definitely is. I? I think I mentioned that my favorite part. I mentioned that. Yes. Yeah. Okay. My fate. Yeah, but with my favorite phone call at the end. It is, you know, I see you asked if I can bring Kleenex, right. So I always have Kleenex on my desk. And I know a lot of emulators do. Because it's funny, people apologize for crying. And I'm like that, that's okay. People cry in here. Like, don't don't apologize. So this is this is a huge thing. And the seeing that all the way to the end where that is a happy phone call, and it is a relief. And it is it is it is, you know, you're happy to move on. That is such a change. I love and I love to be able to see to like you said, you know, being able to at the beginning being kind of scared to ask questions. And by the end, knowing that this is this is me now, you know, this, this is this is who I'm who I am now, or this, you know, this is who I become. Right that is that is such a wonderful thing to see that change and to see that shift. Somebody's really standing Yeah, standing for themselves and standing kind of in their power. SoBarb Greenberg:
yeah, so cool. We had somebody once say before you go into a mediation, to do the Wonder Woman pose with your legs apart in your arm, your hands on your hips, and you know, just kind of before usual, you know, it's not necessary once you connect with yourself a different way, you know, and trust yourself a little more, which I look back and that was super, super difficult time. Oh my gosh, and even after the divorce, it took me a while. It takes a while. But knowing that piece was done in it. I did it. I did it. Oh my gosh, I did it. It was a big step for me in my realization of what's possible, when I I can get through things and I can come out the other side. More than hold, you know, more than it's almost like I told somebody I feel it feels like I saved my life. No, it doesn't feel like that when you're going through it. And if somebody would have told me that in the midst of my divorce, I would have smacked them, you know, and for for a while afterwards, I'm like, oh, go, I would have been just go away for me, you don't know what I've been going through. But as time goes by, and you look back, I think you realize that, you know, even if it didn't turn out the way you want it, even if you know, you didn't get you know what you hoped you would get? Or if it wasn't, you didn't feel it was reasonable, because sometimes it's not always, you know, it's as reasonable as you can get. But, but to look back to it as later, and look back at what you did, and go, Wow, no, talk about those stories about becoming the hero of your own life. That's one of the steps, you know, sometimes, you know, you didn't want to be a hero, and you just can somebody, please take over that for a while that Prince Charming thing might work. But that not really not really. I'm kind of overprint starving you too much responsibility for somebody else to take care of you. or I shouldn't say that. Not take care of you. help you find your happily ever after. Because that's something you do from the inside. And somebody can support you and love you and encourage you and hold your hand and, you know, tell you, you've got spinach in your teeth and all those good things. If that's somebody that loves you makes a big difference. That makes a big difference. But it's ultimately with or without that person. It's ultimately your responsibility to find that in yourself. Boy that went off on a different topic didn'tJennifer Nixon:
know that, I think to get to that point, you know, talking about how to find an attorney and things. Yeah, that's, that's really why you need to find spray that you're really comfortable with, so that you can so that you're not so frustrated through the process that you can't have that kind of internal change. I think if you were working with somebody that you didn't, you didn't get along with or you didn't you weren't working with them? Well, it just, it just wasn't working. I think it would be so much harder to get there. So yeah, so kind of bringing it back to what? I think that's true.Barb Greenberg:
It's super true, because otherwise you'd just be in another relationship that wasn't working. It's happened to be with your dirty. Right, write that so wow.Jennifer Nixon:
Yeah, it's much harder to do that internal work. Yeah.Barb Greenberg:
Yes. And was this an attorney that you can trust and feel safe with? Huge difference? That'd make a huge difference. Wow. Well, this was so good. This was so good. Thank you, Jennifer. Again, thank you so much. And I want to make sure people know how to get ahold of you. And I will put your contact information in the Episode Notes, but just share again, the best way to contact you or where people can find you.Jennifer Nixon:
Sure, yeah. So our website is my firm is Bruce Nixon. And I always have to spell preusse P E, R U S, S E, and then Nixon and I act when just like a president. I'm not related. But that is you know how it's both. So peruse nixon.com is going to be the website. We do have our contact information on there. But my email is probably the easier way to get ahold of me. I said, I do like email. So it's Jennifer at Bruce nixon.com. Otherwise, yeah, like I said, if you're a phone call person, give me a call that that works, too. So that that will be how to how to find me.Barb Greenberg:
That's so great. Oh, I think I have to thank you one more time. Just one more time. No, you were great. And this was really important information for so many people to know. So thank you. Have a good rest of your day. It was a pleasure. Sure. ThankJennifer Nixon:
you for having me. I hope it was helpful.