Over the weekend we will be celebrating the 8th anniversary of Seymour Family Law! We want to take a moment to sincerely thank our present and former clients, all employees who have worked for Seymour Family Law over the years and the support of our friends, family and community. Without your trust and business, our mission would be lost.
To kick-off our celebration of success, and to share a little more about us and our firm, we thought we’d share these 8 Q+As from a recent interview. We would also like to unveil our new user-friendly website: www.seymourfamilylaw.com. In addition, you can also find us on Facebook, Instagram @seymourfamilylaw + Twitter @Seymour_Family.
We look forward to serving you for at least another 8 years!
1. What is one of your proudest moments or top achievements in the last 8 years?
Julie: In starting your own business there’s always a concern of whether or not it will be a success. At this point, I would consider Seymour Family Law a success. I am extremely proud of that, but realize I couldn’t have gotten to this point without all the support of my family, friends and co-workers throughout the years. I am also extremely proud of the very first Rising Star Super Lawyer recognition I received, in 2006. At that time, I had only been practicing for 3 years. I felt incredibly honored to receive that sort of recognition from my peers after practicing for only a short time. While I’ve received that award (and others) numerous times since, the first time will always stick out in my mind, as the best!
Mary: I am proud to say that I have become a mediator, and am scheduled to complete the early neutral evaluator training. This has always been an area I am attracted to, and for years’ colleagues have told me that I should be venturing into this line of work. But, I had not taken the time out of a normally busy work schedule, because each training requires a full 40-hour week away from the office, which is difficult to accomplish. But I have done it, and I am looking forward to serving clients in a new way, while still helping as an attorney in the traditional family law setting.
2. How did you know what kind of law you wanted to practice?
J: Honestly, I thought I wanted to negotiate labor contracts for union workers. When I was offered my first job practicing law, I was told by my then boss I could do that sort of work, but also needed to do what the phones were ringing for. Not surprisingly that happened to be family law. At first I was turned off by the thought of practicing family law, but after receiving my first few clients, I quickly began to like that area of law. I liked the variety it provided and the feeling of helping the families as they go through a major life transition. Now, I couldn’t imagine doing anything but family law.
M: I didn’t really, because when I started I had little experience in any area. I was newly married, starting a family, and needed a job. But, very quickly, I realized that family law is the right place for me. I love the variety of cases that I get, as well as getting to know the client and feeling that I am helping their family during this difficult transition. Family law also incorporates a lot of other areas of law, on a limited basis, including business law, real estate, taxes, employment issues, etc., so that you get to work in varied areas.
3. What made you want to start your own firm?
J: I worked for another law firm for about 7 years before staring Seymour Family Law and found that it didn’t provide the work-life balance I strive for. Not saying that owning your own law practice and handling cases isn’t a lot of work, but as the owner I am able to set the office hours and days the office is open, and provide other hard working attorneys, such as Mary, the opportunity to work hard and have a balanced home life.
M: I was attracted to Seymour Family Law for a variety of reasons. I was just coming off a time where I was a solo practitioner, and I wanted to work with other family law professionals collaboratively. I also really appreciated the approach Julie took with her cases, which I had seen as we previously had been on opposite sides of cases before we worked together. Finally, I really loved working close to home and in a very family friendly environment. Practicing law can take its toll, and Julie builds a work “home” that is supportive of each individual, allowing us to maintain a work-life balance that is so important.
4. What do you find most enjoyable about your profession?
J: I enjoy how different each case and really how different each work day is. Given I’ve represented between 1000 and 1500 clients; I can say that each case has different aspects and is unique. I have had to involve financial experts, real estate professionals, mental health experts, law enforcement and school officials in different cases. Working with all these different individuals gives me insight and dimension on how to represent and pursue my client’s needs and interests. I also feel as if I am constantly learning and able to improve and tailor my approach for clients. Additionally, some days, I am meeting with clients, having phone conference with experts or arguing before the court, while other days are filled with doing research, writing a brief or simply chatting with my co-workers. Every day is different!
M: I like the feeling that I am helping others. Having gone through a divorce myself, I know firsthand how important it is to have objective, professional support during such a difficult time, not only for the clients, but their children as well. Families in transition need the assistance we can provide to help them get to a new normal, where they are still a family but in a different way, and to help them overcome some of the things that led to the separation while creating new habits, boundaries, and traditions for this new start. I like seeing the transformation of a party from the beginning of a case to the end, seeing them grow and accept the end of one stage in life, while looking forward to the future of another.
5. How would you describe your office culture?
J: We have a very laid back, yet professional work environment. If a client drops by the office unexpectedly they will likely see us being very casual. While we are professional, when starting Seymour Family Law, I wanted us, as attorneys, to be approachable and the office to be very homey. We typically have a pot of coffee brewing and are able to share a cup and a conversation with clients, either on the couch or in the conference room, whenever someone drops in.
M: We work very hard to be responsive to client needs, arranging appointments in the evenings as necessary, and allowing clients some control over what aspects of the case they feel they can handle providing input or initial drafts, which helps them to keep costs down. We also take a total team approach to client files, regularly updating each other on cases statuses and bouncing ideas off each other. We also provide back-up for each other in the event of illness, vacation, etc.
6. What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case?
J: When taking on a new case I always attempt to analyze the best method to get the case settled. I ask the client if approaching the opposing party with a letter introducing myself and suggesting a form of alternative dispute resolution or simply filing the case in Court would be best. Given I don’t personally know the other party, but know the implications of how a client decides to start a case I’m able to guide how a case is started. I always try to focus on settlement. Unfortunately, in some cases, litigation is inevitable and sadly sometimes that’s not because the case can’t settle but because of the unreasonable expectation of the other party. I’m a believer that if you make your own decisions for your family, you will be happier with the outcome than if the Judge makes those important decisions for your family.
M: I almost universally take a settlement minded approach to cases, unless it is one of the few that from the very beginning is clear will not be able to resolve by agreement. I am also very clear with clients about the ‘cost-benefit’ of what they want to do. Will the time and expense of what they are seeking pay off with a win, and how likely is that win to occur. I am a firm believer that if at all possible, it is a win to resolve a case without the need for an expensive trial and the acrimony that brings to parents, which spills over to the children. The best outcomes are usually ones crafted by the parties with their lawyers, where the parents can really take a unified approach with their kids and continue co-parenting them.
7. What organizations are you a member of and why are they important to you?
J: I am currently the Vice President of the Dakota County Bar Association and have been in an officer position for a number of years. I believe being an active member of the local bar association gives me insight as to what the Bench is looking at, considering and putting into place that will ultimately affect my clients. That insight allows me to keep my client’s well informed. Also, being an active member of the bar association allows me to get to know the other attorneys in the community that I work with on cases, on a personal nature. I believe it is very important to zealously represent your clients, but not make it personal in nature, especially when dealing with opposing counsel or an unrepresented party. I am also a member of the First Judicial District Bar Association. I also spend a good amount of time volunteering for Dakota and Scott County Self Help Center.
M: I am a member of the Dakota County and First District Bar Associations. I have been a lifelong resident of Dakota County, and have always worked in Dakota County as well. Most of our cases are in Dakota and Scott County (though we do take cases throughout the seven county metropolitan area), so these organizations provide the professional support and collegiality that is most important for me.
8. How do you like to spend your time when you're not working?
J: I simply like to keep busy and having a 3-year-old, fiancé and mom close by, checks that box. My fiancé Kevin can build, fix or make just about anything I suggest, so I’m often coming up with ideas for him to create. Since I love Minnesota summers and gardening Kevin’s creations are usually something I can put a flower or plant in – window boxes, planters – that converts to a holiday decoration when the Season changes. My mom is my best friend so I simply just enjoy being with her. We share an enthusiasm for shopping for anything! My ultimate joy comes from watching my son grow, play, learn and achieve. I have recently discovered a passion for running, and thoroughly enjoy running day or night, rain or shine.
M: I have five kids, a husband, a black lab, and a bearded dragon, so I don’t really have much free time. But I do like to volunteer and I work on the PTO, as a Sunday school teacher, and as a Girl Scout leader. My husband loves to cook, which works well because I love to eat! I try to exercise, and am working towards the goal of running my first 5K this year! When I don’t fall asleep on the couch, I love to read!