Jim Siemens honored in 2016 Legal Elite

Jim SiemensSiemens Family Law Group is pleased to announce Jim Siemens’ inclusion in Business North Carolina’s 2016 Legal Elite.  Each year, Business North Carolina honors the state’s top lawyers in business-related categories.  Every active lawyer in the state is given the opportunity to participate by selecting peers they feel are at the top of their fields.  Fewer than 3 percent of the state’s lawyers made this year’s list.  Jim is included in the Legal Elite Family Law section for the third year.  The complete list and more information about the selection process can be found on Business North Carolina’s 2016 Legal Elite website.

Help Support Local Domestic Violence Agency: Helpmate

Julyan Davis, Helpmate Benefit

Julyan Davis, Black Balsam Oil on canvas

Local Artist Julyan Davis is hosting an art sale from which 100% of the proceeds will go directly to Helpmate, a local organization devoted to helping victims of domestic violence in our community.  Helpmate provides emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis line, case management and court advocacy services, along with counseling and domestic violence prevention education for victims of abuse and their children.  Come enjoy beautiful art and live music for an excellent cause.

OPEN STUDIO HELPMATE BENEFIT

Friday December 11th, 2015 5-8 PM
Saturday December 12th, 2015 10-4 PM

A sale of artwork to benefit Helpmate, Asheville’s domestic violence agency. Landscapes and other oils, from Maine to Asheville to Charleston, by Asheville artist Julyan Davis.

Live music performed by Greg and Lucretia Speas.

100% of proceeds to go to Helpmate. Checks payable to Helpmate.

Julyan Davis Fine Art
2004 Riverside Drive #Z
Asheville, NC 28804
www.julyandavis.com

Facebook: Open Studio Helpmate Benefit

Plans for SFLG and Patton-Parker House

Patton-Parker House

Citizen-Times photo

The Patton-Parker House and plans for Siemens Family Law Group were featured in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Sunday. The article highlights the history of the house, the Preservation Society’s involvement, and Jim Siemens’ plans for the future. Read the story, Historic Patton-Parker House finds new owner, to learn more about the historic building that will house Siemens Family Law Group in 2016.

 

 

 

Historic Landmark to be New Home for SFLG

Patton-Parker House

Jim with the keys and plans for the Patton-Parker House at 95 Charlotte Street.

Siemens Family Law Group will be moving its office to the historic Patton-Parker House in 2016. Located at 95 Charlotte Street, the Victorian-style home was built in 1868 by Thomas Walton Patton, who served as mayor of Asheville in the 1890s.

The Patton-Parker House has been a part of various notable events in Asheville’s history. During the Civil War, the site served as a military encampment known as “Camp Patton,” used by both Union and Confederate forces. In 1894, Helen Morris Lewis conducted a meeting at the Patton-Parker House for a community rally that led to the formation of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association. Thomas Walton Patton and his sister, Frances Louisa, worked to reform jails and prisons and to improve the welfare of women, children and people living in poverty. They were also instrumental in the formation of Mission Hospital, the public library, and the YMCA and YWCA. The African-American community known as “Mountainside” was originally part of the Patton holdings, and the Patton family donated land to establish several local churches, including First Presbyterian Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and St. Matthias Episcopal Church.

The Patton-Parker House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a Local Historic Landmark by the City of Asheville. Siemens Family Law Group looks forward to becoming a part of the history of this Asheville landmark!

Family Law and Bankruptcy

Tomorrow I am presenting before the annual meeting of the Bankruptcy Section of the North Carolina Bar Association in Pinehurst.  The topic will be on the intersection of family law and bankruptcy.  I’m told one of the topics that will be of interest to attendees is whether domestic support obligations (child support, spousal support and alimony) are subject to modification.  The modification of alimony was my topic of presentation last week before a meeting of the Family Law Section, so I’m primed for that discussion.  I posted my manuscript on alimony modification last week.  Here is the manuscript for tomorrow’s presentation.  Making presentations this year has been a great way for me to gain mastery of the material, to make and deepen connections with colleagues, and to be of service to my profession.

Lawyers as Leaders

The American Bar Association presented on Lawyers as Leaders at the Peace Center in Greenville on October 23rd, 2015, and it was a good refresher for me to attend.  Presentations focused on personality traits of lawyers, and how those traits impact leadership; lawyers as leaders within their firms; lawyers as leaders in client relationships; and, lawyers as leaders in our communities.  One presenter suggested that perfection is the ideal aspiration for a firm to adhere to.  That means going all in, in every case, great and small.  Ideas to beat the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) and to move to 100 in the client experience were discussed and included maintaining consistent situational awareness; maintaining open, diverse and deep social networks; and operating from a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset that is bound by an unhealthy ego.

Maybe the perfectionist mindset isn’t all bad, I found myself wondering.  Personally, I believe that to beat the commodification of the legal profession, which is happening, lawyers must meet the leadership challenge.  For one, that means collaborating with your client in a way that ensures that he or she can see, hear and feel the difference a lawyer committed to leadership can make.  The call to leadership has my attention.  As my firm’s leader, the goal of Siemens Family Law Group remains to exceed client expectations while positively impacting the legal profession, the Courts, and the community at large.

Continuing Education: Alimony Modification

At some point in your professional career, you need to step forward and offer to give back to your colleagues and your profession.  Lots of good lawyers care about the quality of their work, their practice areas, and the law and policy that affect their clients.  Leaders of the North Carolina Bar Association Family Law Section put those best intentions into action.  Year after year, they present the best continuing legal education to lawyers of all levels of experience.  And, they work to educate the North Carolina General Assembly in an effort to make family law and policy in North Carolina work better for the citizens of the great North State.  I’m humbled to participate in these good efforts this year.  My contribution comes in the form of a presentation on the law of alimony, and in particular, alimony modification.  Here is the manuscript that I will be presenting from next week:

Child Custody and Shared Parenting

child custody_divorce_siemensfamilylawgroupI used this article, Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report, successfully for a father in a recent child custody case.  The article is a consensus report on the merits of shared parenting.  There is an increasing body of literature – social science – on the merits of shared parenting.  This article represents the best distillation of the science on the subject that I have been able to find.  The conclusions begin on page 59, for anyone who wants to skip to the bottom line.  Every case is different, and I explore the facts of each of my cases to determine whether there is a reason to consider something other than a shared parenting relationship.  Locally, I think that is the majority approach, among my colleagues, and generally among the three judges in our Buncombe County Family Court.  Recently, I hired a local expert to read the conclusions of this article into the record of proceedings to reinforce for the Court what I believe to be the majority approach to child custody.  Whether you are a lawyer, a judge or a litigant, the time has come to think carefully about the emerging social science of child custody.  Ultimately, child custody cases are about the child’s developmental experience, which needs to include mom and dad, in equal proportion, absent unusual circumstances.

Buncombe Struggles with Income Mobility

asheville_siemensfamilylawgroupIn a recently published Harvard study on economic mobility in the United States, counties across the U.S. are ranked from best to worst.  Buncombe County comes in at the bottom, ranking 2,386 out of 2,478.  Boys and girls growing up in low-income households in Buncombe County will earn on average 13.1% less at age 26 than their low-income peers nationwide.  The impact is greater for boys, with an 18.6% loss in income, than for girls, at a 6.8% loss.

A New York Times infographic, The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares, illustrates the projection that today’s low-income children in Buncombe County will make $3,420 less at age 26 than their counterparts across the U.S.

The growth we see in downtown Asheville makes it easy to forget that life for many young people in our community is hard – and getting harder.  This study, 16 years in the making, helps explain some of the harder things I have seen at the Courthouse in 20 plus years of law practice.  Policymakers should consider this study as the City and County continue to grow and develop.  It’s a matter of social justice that we can’t afford to ignore.

The study, The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility, is part of The Equality of Opportunity Project, and you can find the story from the Asheville Citizen-Times here: Study finds little path from poverty in Buncombe County.