Most days I spend my time in my office communicating with my clients about their circumstances (in person meetings, telephone calls, and e-mails), communicating with opposing counsel, and working with my paralegal to acquire the information we need to resolve our clients’ cases. I spend time in the office preparing pleadings, reviewing documents, conducting legal research, drafting marital property agreements, and filing motions based on the needs of each case.
I also spend many days out of my office in settlement conferences, court hearings, and trials for my clients’ cases. I often represent my clients in a settlement process called mediation, where an impartial third party, typically a retired judge or family law attorney, will assist the parties and their lawyers in resolving their conflict through negotiation. In mediation, I present the facts and law that support my client’s position and negotiate through formulating settlement proposals on the client’s behalf. Mediations vary in timeframe, depending on the complexity of the case, with a short session being a half day and a longer session lasting several days. When settlement is not an option, I seek the court’s assistance in resolving issues for my clients. For court hearings, there are some hearings that involve only attorney legal argument before the judge. Most hearings and trials involve presenting testimony of the parties, witnesses, expert witnesses through direct-examination and cross-examination. Also, in hearings and trials, I offer documentary evidence, in addition to presenting legal argument to the court, to support my client’s claims. Most trials will be decided by the judge; however, there are some situations where, when requested, a jury may decide issues in a family law case.
What advice would you give someone considering this career?
A legal career, in any area of the law, takes dedication and commitment. At times, an attorney will be required to work late and work weekends to meet the needs of clients, so work ethic is very important. Representing clients with family law issues can be extremely rewarding because not only are you an advocate for your client, you are also dealing with many aspects of a helping profession, including mental/emotional health and well-being of your clients. To practice family law, you need to be comfortable with human emotion, including grief and loss. An effective family law attorney should not only be a confident advocate to protect a client’s rights relating to their children and property, but also have empathy, patience, and compassion for the client. If you are looking for a legal practice area that allows you to protect your clients and also give them hope, a career in family law might be a good fit for your personality.
What is a book or movie that has inspired you?
A Few Good Men
Do you (or your company) offer internships or job shadow opportunities to high school students? If so, how would a student go about applying for one of those?
At this time, my firm does not have internship opportunities.
Lauren E. Waddell is the founder of the Waddell Law Firm, P.C. and her practice focuses exclusively on family law issues including divorce litigation, custody issues, property division, marital agreements, paternity actions, child support, modification actions, and enforcement of prior orders. Ms. Waddell is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and International Academy of Family Lawyers. She is licensed to practice law in Texas state courts, as well as in federal courts before the Southern District of Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ms. Waddell is actively involved in leadership for legal and local community organizations. She has served as the Chair of the Houston Bar Association, Family Law Section; the President of Texas Women Lawyers; and the President of the Association of Women Attorneys – Houston.
Lauren E. Waddell has been recognized by Texas Monthly Magazine as a “Super Lawyer” (2013-2019), “Top 50 Women Texas Super Lawyers” (2017-2019), and “Top 100 Houston Super Lawyers” (2017-2019). She has also been recognized by the “Best Lawyers” publication (2016-2019); by the H Texas Magazine as a “Top Lawyer” (2010-2019); and by the Houstonia Magazine as a “Top Lawyer” (2013-2019).