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Why Finding the Right Family Lawyer is Like Hunting Sheep

If something is very important to you (family law matters), then you should bite the bullet and treat it like it is something very important by hiring a professional.

New Mexico has a lottery system for big game hunts, and last year one of my sons drew the once-in-a-lifetime Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep hunt. This is the type of hunt that people with a lot of money shell out a lot of money to get (such a tag was recently auctioned off for more than $300,000.00), and hunters in New Mexico will speak of putting in for this hunt for 40 years or more without ever being drawn.

So, for my then 12-year-old, this was like hitting the hunting lottery. As exciting as the hunt was, the initial shock diminished, and certain other aspects of this opportunity started rolling in, which were a little more concerning. For instance, these sheep live above the tree line at 11,000+ ft., so that's where you need to go to get one. Of the two known sheep habitats in the geographic unit of the hunt, the easier to access involves a two and a half hour hike up a 2,500 ft ascent to the base of the mountain the sheep live on, and then it's up another thousand feet from there.

Being that far up in the mountains, there's no "running back to the truck" for anything. All you take is what you can carry. So, throughout the summer leading up to the August hunt, we hiked up there twice and camped up there to scout for sheep (there were lots of them), and in doing so, trying to envision shooting a ram way up there and dealing with it on foot was overwhelming.

Trophy Rocky Mountain Bighorn Rams can easily weigh over 300 lbs. This adventure started shaping up to be a very physically demanding ordeal. Having relatively little hunting and mountain survival experience, I began to understand that I was thoroughly out of my element. Fortunately, there exist hunting guides and outfitters who specialize in this very thing. An outfitter will have camping/hunting equipment, horses, and/or mules to get you up and down the mountains quickly and easily and to carry heavy things as well as familiarity and history with the terrain. A proper outfitter is also a guide and often employs guides who all know where to go to make it a successful hunt. Considering the once-in-a-lifetime nature of this hunt, it was truly special, something we would remember for a lifetime, so we needed to treat it that way.

I started looking around at local outfitters to see if we could find one to work with. We found an outfitter we liked and wanted to work with, but then he quoted us a price….ouch! It was one of those times when you don't really know what something might cost, but you're still shocked when you find out. It really was "gut-check" time for us. This was a big deal, and we really needed to make sure we did it right, so we went ahead and signed the contract, and we have not regretted it for a second since.

We got to see how it looks when you hire professionals and then let them do their job. It was impressive to watch and really punctuated how silly I was even to think we could wade into this without help.

There is an uncanny similarity between this hunting experience and the client experience when hiring a lawyer. You are facing something you didn't expect, but it's a big deal, so you need to do it right. Hiring a professional is more expensive than you expected, so you really think hard about whether or not this is something you can do for yourself.

However, this is where the similarity ends because when facing the sheep hunt, I developed no doubt that I was in over my head. Sadly, when it comes to family law matters, people mistakenly place their faith in the court process, which they really don't understand. So the process doesn't hear what they say or produce the outcomes they desire or expect.

Having practiced before the courts for many years, we have developed a much keener sense of what the judges and hearing officers listen to and listen for. But equally important, we understand the things that they ignore as well. You want someone to guide you who has a history with and knowledge of the terrain you are crossing. This is not something you want to learn as you go. Another important aspect of family law terrain is the law itself.

As practicing attorneys, we have an extensive understanding of New Mexico Family laws as well as the rules of Civil Procedure and the Rules of Evidence, local Court rules, etc. There are few things more frustrating than having evidence to show the court and not understanding how to present it. If you have a family law issue, how far will you wade in before you realize you are out of your element?

Just as outfitters have equipment and livestock, we have knowledge and experience. Just as outfitters understand their terrain, we understand our terrain. We know the attorneys and the judges we work with and against, and we know the hearing officers and their assistants. We know how to navigate the process to achieve results efficiently. Fortunately, hiring one of our attorneys is not quite as expensive as hiring an outfitter for a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep hunt, but the matters involved are really big deals too, maybe more so than some silly hunt, but just like the sheep hunt, you need to make sure you do it right.

You don't want to find out the hard way that you are out of your element. Put our extensive knowledge and experience to work for you. Contact our office online or give us a call at (505) 544-5126 today to work with experienced New Mexico family lawyers on your case!

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