Maddox & Gerock

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My unexpected experiences as a family law attorney

Being a family law attorney has taken unexpected turns in my career.

In late 2006 I moved to Italy to be with my then boyfriend (now my husband) who was working for the United Nation's World Food Programme. I thought I would be taking a sabbatical from my job as a family law attorney, but past clients still called me up in Rome, seeking ongoing advice. My firm sent me transcripts on cases where we had been hired to handle an appeal of a circuit court decision, and I did much of the research and writing for several appeals to the Virginia Court of Appeals. Both of those were unexpected when I moved but made me realize how much I love my job as a family law attorney. I have been working in the area of family law since I was 14 when I got my first job as a file clerk for Betty A. Thompson. I simply fell into family law because it is what my mother (Marcia Maddox) did, and I never thought much about whether or not I enjoyed the practice. It was a wonderful moment to realize how much I truly love what I do day in and day out. As my mother likes to say, we don't create the problems, but we can help to make them better. An unexpected realization to have while living in a foreign country.

Being a family law attorney has taken unexpected turns in my career.

In late 2006 I moved to Italy to be with my then boyfriend (now my husband) who was working for the United Nation's World Food Programme. I thought I would be taking a sabbatical from my job as a family law attorney, but past clients still called me up in Rome, seeking ongoing advice. My firm sent me transcripts on cases where we had been hired to handle an appeal of a circuit court decision, and I did much of the research and writing for several appeals to the Virginia Court of Appeals. Both of those were unexpected when I moved but made me realize how much I love my job as a family law attorney. I have been working in the area of family law since I was 14 when I got my first job as a file clerk for Betty A. Thompson. I simply fell into family law because it is what my mother (Marcia Maddox) did, and I never thought much about whether or not I enjoyed the practice. It was a wonderful moment to realize how much I truly love what I do day in and day out. As my mother likes to say, we don't create the problems, but we can help to make them better. An unexpected realization to have while living in a foreign country.

Since moving back to the US in January 2008, my career has continued to take unexpected turns. The most significant of which was becoming a de facto conference planner for the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (IAML). Marcia Maddox is currently the president of the US Chapter of the IAML; as such, she is required to hold 2 conferences in the US for the IAML. Together, we have already successfully completed 1 conference in March of this year, and we are in the process of planning the 2nd conference for February, 2010.

I never thought being a family law attorney would include conference planning, and it has been fascinating. Together with Marcia Maddox, we plan every aspect of the US Chapter of the IAML spring conferences, from choosing the hotel, arranging for various dinners and activities to planning the education programs and compiling all of the educational materials. I believe the 2009 seminars were up-to-the minute in terms of what is "hot" right now in the area of family law. One day was devoted to the state of the laws relating to same sex marriage both in the US and internationally, together with the pros and cons of collaborative law (which I was recently trained in; details on the collaborative practice will be forthcoming in a future blog entry). The other segment of our educational program was more informative than day-to-day educational: The history of family law in Texas as it juxtaposed with the Yearning for Zion case (compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; also referred to by the media as the Texas polygamy case). We are in the process of choosing the topics for the spring 2010 conference, and I am excited to learn more about matrimonial laws from around the world and put the knowledge to use when our firm represents clients where there is jurisdiction in both Virginia and in a foreign country.

One thing about my career that has not been unexpected: Attention to detail is crucial - whether planning a conference, negotiating a settlement or preparing for trial. The devil is in the details, and the details make all the difference.

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Maddox & Gerock, P.C.
8111 Gatehouse Road
Suite 410
Falls Church, VA 22042
Phone: 703-883-8035
Fax: 703-356-6120
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