A colleague of mine, Kurt Kegel, of Davis Matthews and Quigley, a fellow divorce and family law attorney in Atlanta, was the subject of a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution focusing on people who help other people through difficult times in their lives. It is no secret to those of us practicing in family law that our profession is full of good, professional and ethical attorneys, but it is refreshing to see one of our own acknowledged for those good deeds. Congratulations Kurt! The portion of the article about him is reprinted below, but please read the entire article about some other fine people in our community, a hospice nurse and funeral director:
Lights in the darkness
Published on: 03/14/08
Job description: Must be prepared at a moment’s notice to deal with other people’s distress, sadness, fear, pain and death. Skills needed: considerable. Hours: too many to mention. Rewards: priceless.
Would you answer the ad?
We know that life isn’t all sweetness and light, but, given a choice, most of us probably wouldn’t choose jobs in which we consistently meet people at the worst times of their lives.
Fortunately, hospice workers, domestic relations attorneys and funeral directors, to name a few, are willing to do that every day. Why? They feel called to help — and know that they can.
KURT A. KEGEL, family law attorney
"I knew I always wanted to be involved with people and help them in difficult situations," he said. "I saw the benefits of being able to give something back."
As a family law practitioner with Davis, Matthews & Quigley, Kegel handles matters such as divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, family violence and other domestic-relations issues.
"A lot of my clients are in distress and under great emotional strain," Kegel said. "I can empathize, because I’ve gone through a divorce, and I tell them that there will be an end to the process and that they aren’t alone."
He may recommend a counselor or therapist for emotional issues, but he can allay fears and answer questions about the legal process.
Over the years, he’s developed an expert knowledge of the body of family law, but each case is different.
"You think you’ve seen it all, and then the next case comes through the door," he said.
A divorce or custody case is a highly charged, personal process, and Kegel knows he will hear the worst, nitty-gritty details of relationships.
"Some cases are harder than others, especially the ones when you suspect something inappropriate happened with a child or you see someone using a child as a pawn," he said. "Some days I walk out of here thanking God that I’m going home to my wife and children and can leave work at the office. It makes you appreciate what you have."
The client/lawyer relationship is a delicate balance. Kegel knows that a client has to be comfortable with his or her lawyer and be able to trust the lawyer’s advice. A lawyer has to care about the people he or she serves.
"But a lawyer has to maintain a level of objectivity," Kegel said. "You can’t afford to get so emotionally involved that you take on the case as a cause. If you lose your objectivity, you’re doing your clients a disservice and not giving them the best help."
Kegel has served as past chairman of the State Bar of Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia and is a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He keeps improving his skills, because he wants to stay in family practice.
"There is a great sense of satisfaction in helping people through a very difficult time in their lives," he said.