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Jim Siemens included in 2018 Best Lawyers

Jim/SFLGSiemens Family Law Group is pleased to announce that Jim has been recognized in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Jim is included in Best Lawyers for his work in the practice area of Family Law. Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based on a rigorous peer-review evaluation process. More about the selection process can be found on the Best Lawyers website,

Why Mediation Works

“Reactive devaluation”.  That is the take away term from a mediation training I attended in May of 2012.  The term describes a phenomenon I”ve identified as a mediator, divorce lawyer and one time Husband, but it took the training to give that phenomenon a name.

In the context of divorce mediation, parties generally harbor negative feelings about their spouse or former spouse.  Those negative feelings compromise the ability of one party to hear the other, no matter how valid or important the message.  Polarized parties react by devaluing the message because they don’t like the messenger.

For a while, I thought mediation worked because parties in mediation recognize they can control the outcome and avoid the uncertainty of discretion exercised by a judge.  I still think that’s true in part.  Good lawyers in mediation certainly understand controlling risk.

But, as I continue to mediate for parties in the context of divorce, it is increasingly clear to me that it is my ability to serve as a substitute messenger, and a filter, that brings people to agreement.  As a mediator, I find it rewarding to carry and deliver important messages that might otherwise be reactively devalued and not received.

There is a connection between this concept of “reactive devaluation” and Stephen Covey’s 6th habit of empathic listening, the habit of seeking first to understand before being understood.  Negative feelings and emotions can interfere with the implementation of that habit.

At the recent recommendation of a great judge, I’ve read Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  This book was foundational for Covey, and it ties nicely into the concept of reactive devaluation.  Frankl (and Covey) emphasize that we have the freedom to choose, at all moments of life, how we will react, even in the worst of circumstances.

Mediation is a great tool when you are the messenger getting shot, the one doing the shooting, or both. You have the freedom to choose how you will react to the difficult circumstances of divorce.  We can help you hear important messages.  We can help you deliver them.

Katie Recognized by Pisgah Legal Services

Pisgah Legal Services is our local, amazingly productive and effective, legal non-profit organization.  Although there is little time to spare between this busy private practice and the family, putting some time in for people in this community who would not otherwise have access to representation is truly important.  Thanks for the kudos PLS!  Straight from the Fall 2011 Newsletter:

The MAVL Volunteer of the Month of September is Katie Fisher.   Katie practices primarily family law and some estate planning services at Siemens Law Office, P.A.  Prior to working at Siemens Law Office, Katie worked at Pisgah Legal Services for five years on the domestic violence team.

Katie volunteers for the MAVL program because she, “know[s] how great the need for legal services is in our community, having been on the front lines for a good amount of time.  I also know that the numbers of people needing legal assistance continues to rise and staff attorneys have to make tough decisions and turn people down all the time.  If I can help out by applying a skill I have and ensuring that a family can move on with a little more stability, then I’m still helping PLS in its mission to improve this community, which remains important to me out here in the private practice world.”

As a small token of our appreciation for her contributions to the MAVL program, we are giving Katie a $50 gift certificate donated by Laughing Seed Cafe.