Tell us the basics: Who are you, what’s your company’s name, and how long have you been at this company?
I am an attorney, arbitrator and Virginia Supreme Court-certified mediator in the family and civil areas. I’m also an authorized mediator, mentor and alternative dispute-resolution trainer. I am a partner of CMG Collaborative Law Offices, PLC, and licensed in Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The law firm was established in 2005.
How did you come to specialize in cross-border or international law?
We added this area of concentration as a natural development in our family practice. The large military presence and growing population from other countries in Virginia has resulted in the increasing number of diverse families where there are ties to other countries.
When the relationship breaks down, the person with foreign ties often wants to go back to their support system from their own country. As collaborative attorneys and mediators, we began to acquire specific training in the area of cross border and international parental abduction prevention, and practicing under the Hague convention. That’s an international agreement among signatory countries regarding custody, visitation and support of children where the parties have ties to two or more countries. My partner, Mora P. Ellis, established ACCORD, a sister company whose focus is parental abduction prevention mediation.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned during the recessionary environment of the past few years?
It is critical to constantly re-assess the way you are meeting the client’s needs so as to develop more economical ways for yourself and the client. Listening to the clients’ views and keeping their concerns in mind is a good way to develop new ideas and methods. Also, communicating with the client or potential client as to what you are doing in this respect can go a long way to securing and increasing your client base.
Is there a secret to your personal success? Perhaps a piece of advice you’ve always remembered?
Never stop looking for new ways to grow and improve, and consider all sources. You never know from where a good idea will come.
What’s coming up in the next year for you and your company? What about in the next five years?
(1) Continuing to educate the public and professionals on the benefits of the collaborative process in family and civil matters as viable, alternative dispute resolution option.
(2) Increasing our work in cross-border and international parental abduction prevention.
What, at your business, is the most effective way to connect with customers?
Internet, face-to-face and networking. Educating the public on things that are of benefit to them is also an effective way to connect with potential clients.
What’s the part of your job you dread the most?
When I was a corporate lawyer I could have easily provided a specific answer to this question. Now that I have my own firm and am doing something I enjoy and feel good about, there is nothing I dread.
What’s the part of your job that excites you the most, the thing that makes you want to hurry to work?
There is a great deal of variety in what I do. I do everything from arbitrating financial, real estate and contract matters to mediating civil and domestic relations matters (sometimes in Spanish). I’m also assisting clients in collaborative divorce and potential collaborative civil cases, cross border and international parental abduction prevention mediation and Hague case work, and training in alternative dispute resolution.