Randy Kessler

Chairing the Family Law Section of the ABA has been an honor

I have been so fortunate to have been able to serve as Chair of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association for the 2011-2012 term.  I cannot believe the year is drawing to a close.  To have been allowed to lead this section, has truly been an honor and the highlight of my legal career and bar service.  About 15 years ago I served as Chair of the Family Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association.  I have served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Substance Abuse for the American Bar Association and as Chair of the Family Courts Committee of the Family Law Section of the ABA, as well as Chair of the Family Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association.  This year has really been a culmination for me and I really know for sure now, that being a lawyer, and serving the bar and the community in ways beyond representing clients, is what makes ours a profession worth pursuing.  I have been fortunate enough to meet lawyers and judges from across the world.  And while there are many different personalities in our profession, like any other, there are so, so many people trying so hard to do good and to make the world a better place. 

I recently attended an event for Congressman John Lewis.  He explained how he has been getting in “good trouble” his whole life.  What an inspiration he was and is.  We should all get in “good trouble” and help make positive change in our world.  For me, it is in my limited capacity as a family law attorney, but for all of us there is a way.  My year has had it’s challenges just like any other year, but it has been quite an interesting one for Family Law.  DOMA seems about ready to fall.  Grandparent’s rights are evolving.  International custody issues have been given more attention.  We should all be helping ensure that these issues get the attention they deserve.  Family Law attorneys can and should continue to help legislatures and courts understand the law and the ramifications of poorly drafted statutes or poorly interpreted laws.  We should also help the public understand them.  Knowledge is power and we should all be as knowledgeable as we can about the laws which shape our country.

 Again, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and hope I can continue to contribute.  Those of us who have been fortunate enough to be so involved have a duty to continue to help and to ensure that ours truly remains a “profession” and not just a job.  Let’s keep trying to make this world a better place.


Presenting to Business Valuation Experts

On Thursday June 21, 2012 I will be one of the featured speakers at the 2012 Annual Consultants’ Conference.  It is being dubbed the “Superconference”.  Information on the program is available by clicking here. The program is sponsored and hosted by NACVA, the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts.  Not only am I speaking, but more importantly I plan to learn.  The best business valuation forensic experts in the country will be attending and presenting.  I hope to soak up as much knowledge as I can from these industry experts.

The added benefit to me, is that it is in Dallas and gives me a chance to return to the great state of Texas. While the seminars will be educational, I really look forward to getting to know the leaders in this field, after hours, between speeches and at meals together.  Where better to do this than Dallas?  If you will be there, please say hi, and maybe we can share a meal?


Teaching makes us better

I just concluded my twentieth (I think? Maybe 21?) semester of teaching family law at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. It is so rewarding. While it takes time to prepare and teach (3.5 hours per week of instruction), it feels like I am making a small difference in the students’ lives. Certainly not all of them will practice family law, but my goal has been and continues to be to pass along any skills I have learned that will help them help future clients. But more important than the classroom interaction, is the post law school interaction. I am often contacted by former students with questions about a case. And I see them in courthouses, doing their thing, flourishing.

And for me, the interaction is helpful and rewarding. And it helps my clients. Oftentimes we are discussing an issue, such as Modification of Child Support. I may teach by reviewing a fact pattern of a current case of mine and get their thoughts. I like the students to go through the analysis of a case with me and while I think I am teaching them, they often teach me. The average class size is fifty students so how can I ignore the comments and input of fifty law students? They are often insightful and helpful.

I appreciate the opportunity to teach and appreciate the rewards it gives me. Knowing I am helping young lawyers is an unbelievable reward. Whether we teach law school, present at seminars or simply assist young lawyers (in our own offices or elsewhere), lawyers who give back (and so many do), know these rewards. I am just blessed to have this opportunity and look forward to doing it at least a few more years, because there is much more (for me) to learn.


Pamela

This week, family law attorney, and my boss from 1989-1991, Pamela Tremayne, passed away. Pamela offered me employment when I was a very young lawyer, in my mid-twenties. To work with her was very appealing to me since she was a former teacher, and I had much to learn. Pamela taught me the importance of bar involvement (her father had been a leader in the St. Louis Bar). It was a very small firm (Pamela and I, and then one other lawyer, Kit Carson). We all learned from each other. I tried my first (and only) personal injury jury trial while with her firm, yet the majority of my work was in domestic relations. Pamela was a stickler for details and grammar and that made me a better lawyer. When it came time to part ways, we remained friends and have ever since. In fact, just next week we were scheduled to present together on a panel in Cabo, Mexico at the Sports and Entertainment Law seminar we attend every year. I am sorry she will not be there, she will be missed.

I probably never thanked her sufficiently for what she contributed to my limited success as a lawyer, so Pamela, thank you, I wish I had told you more often how grateful I was for the opportunity you gave me. And I hope I remember to thank anyone and everyone else who has helped me in life and in my career. Not to do so would be a further tragedy.


Braves, Red Sox Collapse. Is there a lesson?

Where’s the silver lining? Maybe that in life, you should never give up? I think so. That’s the optimist in me. As a divorce lawyer, every day I see people who feel their life is collapsing. Baseball is, in the end, just a game. But what did we learn?

The Braves and the Sox, both leaders in the wild card playoff race for the last month, each faltered in ninth inning of the last game of the season. They each only needed to finish off the ninth with the lead of 3-2 they had going into it. Too weird and too sad. But this is, unfortunately a year to remember (since it will be impossible to forget).

But just as in life, there is always next year. In fact, growing up a New Orleans Saints fan, we usually came to understand this after the first few games of every season. And look what happened! It took 47 years, but we won the Superbowl. Time heals all wounds and for Red Sox and Braves’ fans, this too shall pass.

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NACVA seminar

Today I leave San Diego after five days participating in and observing how business valuation experts learn the ins and outs of litigation. There were over 700 attendees at what is known as NACVA and the IBA’s Annual Consultants’ Conference. On the first day I presented on hot topics in family law. But it is what I did on the final day, Saturday, that was the most educational for me. I played the role of judge in a mock trial played out before over 200 attendees and then participated in a panel discussion, AFTER we got to observe, via closed circuit tv, the jury deliberations. What a learning experience. The perspective of being the judge and then vicariously participating in jury deliberations was extraordinary. It helped me recognize how crucial each piece of evidence is, particularly the testimony of experts.

When I am not the lawyer in the case, like during this exercise, I am able to get a clearer picture of the entire environment. This type of exercise, very similar to the ones we do at the American Bar Association, Family Law Section’s Trial Advocacy Institute can be invaluable for a practicing trial lawyer. I was lucky enough to be invited to help teach, but I actually learned much, much more than I taught.

Thank you to NACVA (National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts). I hope trial lawyers and expert witnesses can keep learning together. We certainly help make each other better.

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Super Bowl 2011

So this entry has little to do with Family Law, and more to do with how this Family Law Attorney enjoyed the Super Bowl. Last year, as a lifelong New Orleans’ Saints fan, I had the chance of a lifetime to watch my hometown team go to and win the Super Bowl. It was an unreal experience. As my brother and I watched from the very front row in Miami, he turned to me and said “It’s the greatest thing in the history of things”. So of course, this year could not top that, especially when the Saints were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.

But I still went and had a blast. My law partner and I flew in Sunday morning. We had Tex-Mex lunch (all you can eat tacos and guacamole), stood in line for 2 hours to get into the stadium, and then saw the greatest building every constructed by human beings in my lifetime. The building was as impressive, if not moreso, than the game. There were fanatical fans like the woman in our row from Pittsburg with a cheesehead on her head, with a plastic butcher knife and fake blood protuding and oozing from it, as well as celebrities like Andy Roderick, Coach Jim Mora, Jr., A-Rod, Ashton Kutcher, George W. Bush and many others.

But perhaps most amazing, is that in this day and age, we were able to fly in, go to the game, go to a late dinner, return to the airport and get on a 5am flight, all without even needing to check into a hotel. It was a very full 24 hours. I feel so fortunate to have been able to go. The game was terrific, but really, the whole day, the whole experience of spending a Sunday like that, was unforgettable.

How does this relate to family law? It doesn’t, unless you think that on this day, most Americans were happier than usual, or at least distracted from their every day problems long enough to enjoy the game (or at least the commercials.)

It was fun, but of course Monday always follows Sunday and it too was a full day, culminating with teaching my law school family law class until 9:00p.m. Monday night. But sleep cures a lot and here we are, counting down until the next Super Bowl in Indianapolis, hoping the New Orleans’ Saints return as well.


Why a blog?

We are family law attorneys. Our primary focus and purpose is to represent clients in family law matters including divorce, custody disputes, child support matters, premarital agreements, paternity, legitimation, modification, contempt, and many other family law related issues. So why embark on a “blog”? The answer is that we do not want to get left behind. The world is changing and we want to make sure we change with it. Years ago, very few firms had their own website. Kessler & Solomiany, LLC. was one of the first family law firms in town with its own website, and we have spent many hours and many dollars ensuring that our website was appropriately updated and managed.

The advent of e-mail and the internet has meant a change for all of us. Many people now get their information on line and one of the ways to get information on line is through blogging. We do not intend to spend a significant portion of our resources or time developing the blog; however, we recognize that it is an important part of our duty to the public and to our clients to remain and continue to be leaders in the field. Opening our minds and eyes and ears to current topics in our field of expertise is something we feel is important to us and to the community.

It is our intention to monitor family law both in Georgia and nationwide and to comment on it as and when it may be appropriate for a firm of 30 family law professionals such as ours. We invite your comments and feedback as well as criticisms as we attempt to stay with the times and develop a leading family law blog for Atlanta, and surrounding communities.