conflict mediation, Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, rezooming legal career, solo practice university, conflicts between people over animals

Going to the Dogs, Cats, Birds and Horses

For the final article of 2017, highlighting attorneys who rezoomed their career, I thought I would update everyone on my journey back into the law. It has been an incredibly enlightening, sometimes frustrating, yet joyful journey. Today, I find myself loving what I do and looking forward to going to work every morning. Doing what I am doing now means more to me than all the ups and downs of the last 6 years.

When I started writing for Solo Practice University® in the beginning of 2011, I had just re-entered the legal world. To be honest, writing for  Solo Practice University® was frightening. I will never be able to thank Susan Carter Liebel enough for giving me this task. It made me write, which for me was terrifying. I learned how to take editing suggestions and meet monthly deadlines, something everyone should have to do as they rezoom their career!! It makes you focus. This focus becomes contagious in every area of your practice.

In January 2011, I was litigating and dabbling in mediation. The thought of only handling cases that involved conflicts between people over animals using mediation seemed ridiculous. In fact, all my animal law colleagues told me it was absurd. Who did I think I was? There was no room for mediation in animal law. Yet, I believed there was room for mediation and that the animals, who were at the center of the conflict would fare better in mediation. I persevered and now help people steeped in conflict find a more peaceful way to resolve their disagreements.

Mediation Practice Helps Resolve Conflicts Between People Over Animals

Where do my clients come from? Veterinarians who want to avoid negative Yelp and facebook reviews hire me to help them have a conversation with an angry client or staff member. People facing divorce who own a pet recognize that using mediation will allow them to decide what is best for their beloved pet. I was quoted in Bloomberg as saying mediation works because, “unfortunately your pet doesn’t hate your ex.” I help neighbors wave to each other after addressing a disagreement over a barking dog. The list goes on and on.

By empowering people through mediation to talk with one another they are able to find the path of least resistance to a solution. Truly, my practice has gone to the dogs, cats, birds and horses. I help people stay out of court and think about what is best for their pet, a concept still unavailable in most US courts.

Now my practice is completely based on mediating conflicts between people over animals. By 2015, I had gained the skills to write a book, Nipped in the Bud-Not in the Butt, How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts Over Animals. It was endorsed by Temple Grandin and Bernard Rollins, both accomplished writers in the animal issue field.

I speak and work nationally and internationally. My speaking opportunities have included veterinary and pet service industry conferences, bar association meetings and pet clubs. Because I mediate, I can help people all over the country stay out of court. I provide them with an alternative way to communicate while giving them the necessary tools to address a problem, keep a relationship and appreciate a position they may not share.

I have made many friends and met countless colleagues who have helped me along the way. By working together, everyone’s life and practice flourishes.

This year’s spotlight on rezooming attorneys was one way I felt I could give back to those travelling the same road I still travel. The people who shared their stories hopefully insured that a whole new crop of attorneys would decide to re-enter the practice of law. I certainly hope so.

As we wrap up this year of Spotlights on Rezoomers I wanted to point out two things I noticed in everyone’s story. Each rezooming attorney exhibited great courage and fortitude. The stories they had to tell, some quite unique, all showed that they kept moving forward reaching for their dream. You, too, can follow your dream!

It can be intimidating if you look at getting back into the legal world as a long, lonely road. It’s easier if you take it one day at a time and learn from everything you experience. I hope this year’s stories of rezooming success will help you decide to catch the wave. Now get out there and rezoom.

This article was originally published in the column I write for Solo Practice University® 

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