Archive for May, 2012


There is an old saying “the law is a jealous mistress.” That still seems true. I have a client–my first since semi retiring and moving to a slow-paced and artistically oriented place. I am doing something I do REALLY well– absorb MASSES of data, perceive patterns (and truth), see the arc of the story, and present a coherent picture to the folks with the power. MAYBE allow a litigant trapped in litigation to achieve escape velocity.

Part of me loves the process of turning over the puzzle pieces and fitting them together. I was so good at that at Culbertson I was forever seeing things many other attorneys who had had the same file had missed.

I now realize most attorneys can’t do this–they just see one issue and one solution. (I read and reply to questions on Avvo –the responses from various and sundry attorneys are enlightening. (They have a hammer… So many nails…)

But even as my mind relishes digging in, I feel my creative energies being drained. Even as I use much more creative solutions than my peers (a graphic time line, for one) to sort this mess out… my photography and papermaking projects languish.

I am not sure why this is—but it is.

Even my writing languishes. (I write in my head every time something strikes me- but there is so much of it I don’t always write it down.)

BUT if I can strip away all the clutter in this scenario and MAKE IT EASY for the court to see the REAL arc… if I can get the mess on a track of “ADR”—alternative dispute resolution… I will have done a Good Thing.

But I won’t have made much art in the meantime.

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I was glad to see the question about the persistent stirrer of the pot-I have seen it SO much for SO long. I hope this book get wide reception.

Unhooked Books

Hello, I’m Megan Hunter, publisher of a few books at HCI Press and owner of, your resource for all things related to unhooking from conflict.

While working at the Arizona Supreme Court in family law, I listened as family court judges, lawyers and mental health professionals bemoaned having to deal with the 10%-15% of litigants who took 90% of the court’s time and resources yet were mostly able to resolve their disputes and move on. I empathized with their frustrations as they explained the stress caused by these cases – inability to sleep, not knowing who was lying or telling the truth, making decisions for families who were fractured seemingly beyond repair and watching the children suffer greatly. Sadly, I didn’t have a solution for them.

On the other side of the coin, I witnessed the destruction of a friend’s children as she and her children’s father sought to…

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“Don’t go to Law School”—And Why It Wasn’t True For Me.

I just read a rant by a law school graduate turned best selling writer:  it gives multiple reasons why you should not go to law school” with “testimonials like this;” “As I write this, it is 85 degrees, sunny, with a slight, cooling breeze coming from the West. The only reason I know this is that I took twenty minutes to run to get a sandwich to eat at my desk. I am sitting in a basement office which houses three of us, putting off research on state law fair debt collection vs. the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the definition of a creditor to write this post. If that paragraph alone doesn’t deter someone from law school, then I don’t know what will.”

It also discussed the crushing debt, which is also a topic generally in this economic mess that is today’s business climate. “I’ve mentioned this multiple times above, because it is so crucially important to making the right decision about law school. Debt is the elephant in the room that law schools never tell you about, but ends up dominating your life.Law school is three years long. If you go to an average law school and don’t get any tuition help or scholarships, you are going to spend ~$150,000 all-in, at least.” (Above rant.)

And I wonder—how the hell did I do it? I had the GI Bill—I don’t recall how far that went. I worked, despite the 2 year program and being told that was impossible—I spent the first year in the Active Reserve of the United States Air Force. (I think that paid about $300 a month.) My school screwed up one of my three student loans… and never billed me. (An odd quirk of fate I mentioned previously.) But I was still paying for my undergrad degree, so I have o idea how that played out, net debt wise. And I was forced to pay of the remaining loans when I bought my condo in 1991—which was thanks to inheriting money from my mother.

But can I REALLY be that lucky? (Possible, given the many times I have been spared things others suffered…) or is this just the new reality—far different from the kinder gentler one of 1981? (Or… both?)  But as you know (if you have been following) I got a job right out of law school. And that job paid about three times what I had made before law school. I paid back my students loans. I don’t recall any stress about them–ever. But then I sold my mobile home as I drove way. I found things other did not. I had miracles. Synchonistic events have dominated my life,  AM I different???

My experience surely was, if this rant is accurate. Why? I know life in general was far more affordable in the 70s and 80s.  (I bought one mobile home in Florida with a minimum wage job, and my husband and I bought another in Mississippi in the mid 70s—brand new from the factory, on military pay. And I had savings when I drove west to Los Angeles.)

Money was never an issue in my life until I got fired from my consulting job in 1997 and developed PTSD. That was part an economic quirk—and a change in Workers’ Comp law—and partly a refusal to sell my soul. Stu Baron at WCCC was doing dishonest things as his response to the economic hiccup and I called him out… and kissed my job goodbye. but I went to law school to become something I was not before–and it worked. (See previous post “From Wet Behind the Ears..”

And life has been very strange ever since. How much is me? And how much is the very bizarre times we live in now? I truly do not know.


Miracles on 7th Street er–Ocean Avenue

Miracles. Law. Doesn’t sound like a fit does it? But trust me—it was. Some of the adventures I previously wrote about–getting the bishop to put the kibosh on the priest vs. bus driver suit– was in the ball park. Settling cases based on human values when I was a newbie—yeah, that’s pretty close. (Now I know… it is all because I am an “HSP“. )

Then there was another case, in Long Beach, where I smelled a rat and had a friend pull a “property profile” and saw that the Plaintiffs’ attorney (and the plaintiffs were honestly the “bad guys”) had a lien on the house the lawsuit was about.  Yeah, that one too. (You see, that is TOTALLY unethical. In case you can’t see why, it is because the lawyers could have taken the property away from the parties—even before the case was sorted out. Lawyers have a fiduciary duty—they –we-have to put clients first.) I know—folks are running for their nitro glycerin. Don’t sue me please. But this is true.

So as soon as I found this—gee folks it’s public record—that case settled. REAL fast. We won. (And my boss felt we didn’t we get a good enough deal… sound familiar???) But I digress. But NO ONE else thought to see where these young folks were get the money to hire attorneys to sue their gramma to get her house, just lil ol me. I wondered, I had a hunch, I checked… I saw. (Guess why I like “House”?)

But it got REALLY clear when I had a family law case with a twenty-something dad. It as a custody case, and I tended never to take these. Still don’t. But somehow this one seemed legit, it felt right, so I took it.  In intake, knowing court was likely,  I told my guy to make himself look like Beaver Cleaver—which his friends razzed him for. (They actually said “what are you–Beaver Cleaver?)

Mom was apparently not emotionally stable. So… off to court we went. My newly Beaver-Ckeavered young dad and I.

I was very focused, getting ready for the appearance. Wore my $700 Barry Bricken “don’t f*** with me” suit. (Trust me that was some bucks back them. Size 6 wool—GORGEOUS, but oh so don’t mess with me.) Wore my gold and diamond watch. As I dressed, I was thinking of nothing else. Drove from Galleon Way in San Juan Capistrano to Long Beach… made my appearance with my newly spiffed young dad in tow. We were dealing with Mon in pro per. Back then, this was every attorneys nightmare. The case was put over until after lunch, costing my gut hundreds of dollars in extra time spent. During lunch,as were int he courtroom– or maybe the hallway–Mom came over and said to both of us “you can have the baby”.

criminal for naught

criminal for naught (Photo credit: carrollUSA)

We are all gobsmacked. But she meant it.  A stipulation is entered and we all go home—dad to his folks with the baby—Mom to… Well it turns out God knows where. he disappeared. (Which was a problem.)

But that day we were very happy indeed. Later I asked one if my Summit friends “How did I DO that?” He said “it was your intention”—I had described the while day to him… I said “OK.” But still… it was a miracle.I wish I knew how things turned out for the poor kid–but I don’t.

Like all my miracles it was not appreciated.  Dad was mad because Mom melted away and we could not do squat. He fired me.  But.. I knew the child was better off with him and his parents. Yes, miracles were easy. Maybe not so popular—but easy. I have no idea why easy. I am beginning to understand why no one went “WOW-you are awesome. Next time…

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Categories: law, transforamtion Tags: , ,

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%.

As I have always said–if punishment changed behavior we’d have gotten it right by now. This is a MUST READ!

Categories: transformation Tags: ,