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Helen Antel, Lawyer and Peacemaker – P.1

Former criminal prosecutor Helene Antel grew up in a low-income housing project in the South Bronx. It was a rough and ugly neighborhood where people did not treat each other with kindness. She knew, even as a little girl, that so much hatred was not normal. She remembers being eight or nine and flying with fists of fury at a burly, tattooed gang member because he was picking on a little fat kid. She’s had the heart of an advocate since she was small.

Helene is a lawyer in Alaska who recently made the decision not to litigate any more. Over the course of her impressive career, and with a little help from her personal life, Helene has come to the conclusion that most conflicts are the product of a misunderstanding, or the lack of a good translator. And so she doesn’t litigate, she translates. Through translation, she reduces conflict while increasing peace and understanding.

Listen as Ron and Robert interview Helen Antel, lawyer and peacemaker.

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A choice to make, a lesson to learn

The most important lesson to be learned in life is that who you are being in the world is far more important than what you say. You may know all manner of wonderful things and be very proficient in the practice of your art, but if you demonstrate a substantial deficit in integrity, than all your words mean very little. Don’t tell me who your are, show me who you are being. We all share a commitment, as helping professionals, to set an example to our peers that is based on measurable values. I want to know what you stand for before I care what you do. We live in the best of times and the worst of times. Values are being challanged daily. There are great opportunities to be better than we have been in the past, or worse. We make choices every moment of every day. Every choice we make has specific consequences. The question is whether we are making choices congruent with our values or not. It is really that simple. I only wish it were that easy.

Not just a lawyer

An article this week in the New Zealand Herald got me thinking.  The author writes, “Lawyers know about conflict and extreme positions and applying rules and measuring out assets and applying formulas and assessing risk. What lawyers don’t seem to know about is that there is really only one answer to everything.  Forgiveness.”

In a way, she’s right.  Yet what she says is basically what those of us practicing collaborative law have been trying to say all along.  Divorce is a crisis of huge proportions.  It’s messy, it’s complicated, it’s painful.  While traditional lawyers are trained to defend their clients according to the laws, collaborative lawyers are trained to help families in crisis reorganize their lives with dignity, honor and peace.  The goal of Collaborative Divorce is to begin as two, end as one, and still feel whole.

Recently I heard a woman say that it was too late to begin the collaborative process because she’d all ready hired a traditional lawyer.  It’s never too late to turn things around and seek peace.

If you or someone you know has questions about the collaborative process, send us an email by clicking here:  You can also call our toll free number (888) 852-9961, and please feel free to visit our information center.  We’re here to help.