Paul Brumley, Greg Beane, Janet Brumley, Jennifer Hargrave, Jim Mueller and Jimmy Verner
Jennifer Stanton Hargrave, a former Rising Star, was selected as a SuperLawyer in 2012. Jim Mueller has twice been recognized as a Rising Star.
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Paul and Janet Brumley Featured on Laws.comMarried Divorce Attorneys Talk Family Law and Divorce
Dallas, TX – Not all divorce attorneys are married, and even fewer are married to a fellow family law attorney. For Janet and Paul Brumley, both partners at VernerBrumley in Dallas, the choice to be in divorce law was an obvious one. "I really like the intense, immediate relationship that one gets with the client in family law," Janet told laws.com in a recent interview. "Some people don't like that close client contact."
Paul, too, sees divorce law as an obvious choice for an extrovert. "I like dealing with people. Divorce law is intense and immediate – you get to see the client smile more than just about any form of law. Even if they don't get what they want, they still get a resolution, they feel like someone has heard them."
Follow this link for the rest of the story.
Jim Mueller Receives AV Rating from Martindale–HubbellVernerBrumley proudly announces that partner Jim Mueller has received an "AV" rating from Martindale–Hubbell, based on evaluations submitted by his peers. The ratings process includes evaluation of a lawyer's legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability, legal experience and ethics. "AV" is the highest possible rating, the "A" standing for legal excellence, the "V" for very high ethical standards.
Janet P. Brumley Featured in Dallas Business Journal
The Dallas Business Journal has published an article about Collaborative Law, called Working it out - Collaborative divorce: A blessing or a curse? featurning Janet P. Brumley. Read the article on this page by clicking here or view the article as a pdf file.
About Our Firm
At VernerBrumley we understand that when you are divorcing, you feel as though your life is coming apart. We know that for most divorcing couples the most important goal is to accomplish the dissolution of their marriage without destroying their family. We help you pick up the pieces, identify and arrange the building blocks of your lives, so that you can restructure your family unit with the least trauma possible to all.
Our firm is listed in The Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers, which has been America's most exclusive directory of law firms for more than 80 years. The Bar Register lists only select law practices and law firms that have earned the AV® Rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and have therefore been designated by their colleagues as preeminent in their field.
Every one of the firm's attorneys is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and belongs to the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists. Mr. Verner is also Board Certified in Civil Trial Law.
Dallas Business Journal
Working it out – Collaborative divorce: A blessing or a curse?
by Bill Hethcock – Staff Writer – Dallas Business Journal – April 12–18, 2013
A kinder, gentler approach to divorce got a ringing endorsement recently from billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who used a process called collaborative law in parting ways with his fourth wife, Madeleine, late last year.
"Collaborative law keeps everything on a high level and everybody cooperating," Pickens said in an interview with the Dallas Business Journal after telling lawyers about his experience with the process at a March luncheon sponsored by Collaborative Law Institute of Texas.
A collaborative process – rather than duking it out in court – is used in one in four divorce cases in North Texas, practitioners estimate. More than half of collaborative law cases are divorce, but it can be used in other scenarios, too.
Collaboration attracts parties looking for a process that is cheaper, more family–friendly and private compared with litigation. But it's not for everyone and, some legal experts warn, can hit the wallet hard if talks dissolve.
Softer than a wrecking ball
While collaborative divorce may sound like an oxymoron, it has true believers.
Family law attorney Janet Brumley of VernerBrumley PC in Dallas uses a collaborative approach in about 80 percent of her cases. She has handled more than 1,000 cases with the procedure.
Brumley's collaborative caseload grew steadily for about 10 years since the process was introduced in Texas in 2000, but has plateaued in the last three or four years, she said. She conducts training of attorneys and financial and mental health professionals on collaborative law and wrote a 2004 book on the topic called "Divorce Without Disaster."
Brumley compares the dissolution of a marriage to the dismantling of a house.
"Instead of people trying to tear each other apart, (the divorcing spouses) are really trying to say, 'We built this house together, we're going to take it apart together,'" Brumley said. "Instead of just slamming the wrecking ball into the side of the house."
The collaborative method works not only for divorces, but for prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements and other cases in which the parties involved want to have a good relationship after it's over, Brumley said.
It also attracts people who yearn for privacy, because differences are hashed out behind closed doors instead of in open court, said attorney Chris Farish of Quaid & Quaid LLC.
In addition to an attorney for each divorcing spouse, collaborative meetings typically include a neutral financial professional and a neutral mental health professional. The lawyers and neutrals are paid by the hour.
Why that combination?
"Divorce is typically the biggest legal issue people ever deal with in their life, the biggest financial issue and the biggest emotional issue they ever deal with in their life," Brumley said.
It's not for everyone
The best thing about the collaborative approach is that it takes the decision making on tough issues such as child custody out of a judge's hands and puts it in the hands of the parents who will be raising those children, said Mary Jo McCurley of McCurley Orsinger law firm in Dallas, who estimates that about 25 percent of her cases are handled collaboratively.
"A judge only has so much time to hear a case and make decisions," she said. "They're going to be making those decisions with a hatchet. With collaborative, you can do it with a scalpel."
The outcomes are typically better with the collaborative approach because the participants rather than the courts control the process, said Vicki James, a Dallas counselor and therapist who serves as a mental health neutral in collaborative cases.
"Collaborative law is family–friendly," James said. "There's still a family after divorce. You don't stop being a mother. You don't stop being a dad."
On the other hand, collaboration requires the spouses to trust each other and each other's attorneys. That can be a hurdle, McCurley said.
"As you can imagine, if you're at the point of divorce, a lot of people don't have a lot of trust."
That's one reason the collaborative approach doesn't work, said Larry Friedman of Dallas–based Friedman & Feiger LLP. He doesn't favor the process.
"By its nature, a divorce is adversarial," Friedman said. "Two people are not getting along. If these people could get along, they would still be married."
When the divorcing spouses can't reach an agreement under the collaborative process, the attorneys and financial and mental health consultants must withdraw and the divorcing husband and wife have to hire new lawyers and essentially start the process over. Friedman said he has been referred dozens of cases in which that has occurred.
In most of those cases, the reason the collaborative process didn't work is because one or both spouses were being dishonest, Friedman said. Unless both parties can make truly informed decisions, the outcome will not be fair. Rules of discovery and civil procedure and penalties for lying in court help uncover the truth in divorce cases, allowing a fairer settlement to be reached, Friedman said.
"There is a cloak of honesty around the adversarial system," he said. "It encourages honesty."
Reducing the toll
From a financial standpoint, a collaborative divorce typically costs about one–third that of a litigated divorce in attorney fees, according to a survey in American Lawyer.
Brumley and McCurley agree that it's typically a cheaper route.
So did Pickens, who didn't use the approach to end his previous marriages.
He estimated using the less combative approach saved him "several million" in legal fees and other costs. But possibly more importantly, it reduced the emotional toll on himself and his family, he said.
Friedman, however, said he has handled cases in which the parties spent more than $250,000 in attorney, consultant and other fees during the collaborative process – money that was essentially wasted when the case ended up going the traditional route.
The cost of any divorce varies widely, and typically correlates to the wealth of the divorcing couple, Brumley said. If there's not much to split, there's not much to fight over, she explained. But for couples with land, houses, businesses, cars, oil rigs and such, that's another story.
Drama kings or queens – or those married to one – need not apply for the collaborative approach, Brumley said.
"If you have just one person who's attracted to the drama of the courthouse, this isn't going to work," she said.
"We have a saying. Litigation is a right. Collaborative law is a privilege."
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