When I reflect on the year anniversary of my firm Claire Samuels Law, PLLC my heart is filled with gratitude and the peace that comes from building a practice that is authentic to who I am!
As Danielle LaPorte said in her book the Fire Starter Sessions “Being genuine is the foundation of integrity – often inconvenient and not always painless – but the only way to go if you’re here to really, truly, fully live.” I couldn’t agree more, and I’m thankful for all the things and people, the good and the bad, that got me to this moment. But it has been a journey.
It didn’t take too long after I started practicing family law to feel the misery that comes with being out of alignment. To experience the suffering associated with not being true to yourself. The disconnect between who I was and who I needed to be (or thought I needed to be) to be a successful lawyer made me feel like a failure and I was so ashamed of it.
I went to law school to be a family law attorney, to help people and I was doing it at one of the most prestigious firms in the city…what in the hell was wrong with me???? Why couldn’t I just do what some of my mentors shared was the secret sauce for practicing family law and just turn off my feelings from 8-6? Because that is not who I am and not ever who I was intended to be.
But Lord knows I tried…I kept stuffing my feelings, “winning” cases and building my practice doing the things the “best” lawyers do. I made partner and even bought myself a brand-new Mercedes convertible. By all intents and purposes, I was “killing” it! And while I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the recognition for my hard work or driving that fancy new car, I paid a price for both behind closed doors.
When I sat down to write this post, I pulled a journal from a workshop I did six years ago. I remember it vividly because it was one of the first “self-help” or what I would have called “woo woo” workshops I ever attended. Just FYI, I am now a proud member of the “woo woos” and highly recommend it to anyone looking for peace, joy and happiness in their life or career.
In any event, I remember sitting on my yoga mat in a room full of strangers, still wearing my wedding ring because I was too embarrassed to tell the world my marriage was over and feeling desperate to try and figure out what to do with my life. We were using Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul.
As part of one of the exercises, we had to answer two questions:
What do I do most naturally? My response was:
“Talking to people, listening to people, helping people, organization and planning.”
What do I do even though I don’t want to? My response was:
“Practice Law? Family Law?”
And there it was, in black and white…an “ah ha” moment if you will. The things I did naturally (and still loved doing) led me to doing something I didn’t want to do anymore. But I still needed a paycheck, so something had to change!
In the year that followed, and as I struggled through my own separation and divorce, I started dreaming about what my practice could be. What would make me love it again? What it would look like to truly help people going through a divorce.
I dreamed of having this big office with every kind of helping professional you could think of and having all those experts at my clients’ fingertips. Maybe there would even be a yoga studio. Dreaming of this place made me SO happy.
But it is not easy to leave the safety of what you know and chart a completely different path. So I gave into my fears and rationalized playing it safe (and small) for a few more years until the universe created an opportunity, and it became clear that my only option was to fly.
I started my firm in June 2020 with the idea of being a “peaceful warrior” and offering my clients A Becoming Divorce. One that honors what was once a sacred relationship. I knew I could be “both/and” for my clients. That I could still be an advocate, but also a trusted advisor. That I could continue to provide them with the very best legal representation, but also show them the way to have a more powerful and peaceful divorce. And I was right!
I was determined to create an environment that would empower clients to make important decisions from a place of strength versus promoting the traditional scarcity mindset that forces clients to make decisions from a place of fear. Understanding there are clients who may want or need additional support, I offer my clients an additional community of helping professionals dedicated to supporting them during this transition.
As we know, when clients are guided by highly skilled and compassionate professionals, they have the freedom to reorganize, restructure, and redefine their family with dignity and grace. And I recognize that offering this space or what I am now calling A Becoming Divorce to my clients is my sacred mission.
I remain thankful for mentors like Woody and Susan who have supported me on my journey to becoming a “peaceful warrior” and for all their efforts to educate potential clients and aspiring peacemakers on the power of peaceful conflict resolution.
The other day, I received a note from a client confirming this approach works. She said:
“I look back on the last 7 years of my life in awe of the support and love I’ve received, and with deep reverence for the collaborative efforts that have enabled me to raise my children well.
Your work has enabled me to shield them from much of the hurt and they are—today anyways—all thriving.
Thank you eternally.”
My vision of A Becoming Divorce, my role as a peaceful warrior and activating the power of community when going through the divorce process have been realized. It wasn’t always convenient or painless, but 12 months later it is oh so sweet.
Claire has been practicing family law in Charlotte, North Carolina for the past 14 years. After years of litigating high conflict cases, Claire has seen just how toxic the “scorched earth” approach to divorce can be for everyone involved, particularly children. It has been her experience that even high conflict couples can divorce in an amicable way with the proper guidance. Claire is committed to supporting and educating her clients about alternative resolutions that will empower them to resolve their legal disputes while preserving the civility that allows them to raise healthy and well-adjusted children. Claire is also a certified Family Financial Mediator and recently completed Susan and Woody’s (or Mosten Guthrie) 40-Hour Mediation Certification training.