Does your family have any idea what you do in your legal practice? If not, invite them in. It's always fun for them to visit your office or watch you in the courtroom. However, what I'm talking about here is getting them involved in a more personal way. Let me share a couple of things we have tried in our family.
At one point our son, about 8 years old, told us he had not eaten several candy bars that were now missing. He said this with chocolate smeared on his face and the candy wrappers on the floor of his bedroom. We mentioned those facts to him, but he still insisted he had not eaten the candy bars. My husband, who is a judge, asked him if he would like to have a trial. Our son responded with a loud yes.
We allowed him to pick his own defense attorney (a sister). We used other family members as a prosecutor, judge, and jurors. After a lengthy trial of about 10 minutes, he was found guilty. We had a leftover piece of pool fencing that we used to put him "behind bars" for his crime. He was sentenced to 5 minutes.
This mock trial was funny, and it gave our children a feel for what is involved in a trial: fact finding, arguing before a judge, etc.
Other times we have helped our children enter into contracts. For example, our oldest daughter decided she wanted to charge our youngest daughter a fee every time she slept in her bedroom. For some strange reason our youngest daughter agreed to this arrangement (probably because she was afraid of the dark). In order to make sure everyone was clear on the commitments of both parties, we helped them draw up a contract which they both signed. Then later when they disagreed about the arrangement, all we had to do was bring out the signed contract.
Once again, this little experience with contracts helped them understand what their parents did and helped prepare them for future contract negotiations.
Have you had any enlightening family legal experiences you'd like to share? I am sure many of us would love to read them, smile over them, and maybe try them in our own families. Please share!
--Nan Barker, vice-chair of the international JRCLS Women in the Law Committee, has served as chair of the Phoenix WIL section. She is the recipient of the Phoenix chapter's Jesse Udall Award for 2010 for outstanding community service.