Honest Abe was a Family Lawyer

I just read a recent speech by Mark Baer given at the opening night of The Divorce Expo in Detroit Michigan on March 23, 2012.  In it he states that Abraham Lincoln specialized in family law.  Baer then goes on to include the famous quote made by Lincoln for an 1850 law lecture:  “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this…. A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it….” 

I cannot help but think that, if Abraham Lincoln were practicing family law today, he would be specializing in Collaborative Law.  Collaborative lawyers are trained to be peacemakers.   Unless it would be inappropriate, collaborative lawyers always discourage litigation.  We come to the practice of family law with the approach recently articulated by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor:  “The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.”  I wish that every lawyer came to the practice of family law with the example of family lawyer Abe Lincoln as their ideal.  It is encouraging to know that every collaborative lawyer I work with does.