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By Joryn Jenkins

Cindy Gibbon and Chris Kissinger were married in Long Boat Key, an hour away from my center of practice. They had both been Appraisal of Real Estate graduate students of my husband, two years earlier, and, after, when they moved to our tiny island neighborhood, we all remained close, so we were invited to their wedding. Sixty other guests also attended.

When we arrived, it was a balmy early May evening. The calming wavelets rhythmically just barely kissed the sand. The sky had assumed a pearly white luster, despite that the sun was setting, a fiery orange orb.

We knew none of the other guests, it seemed, so we sat on the aisle end of a row of chairs precisely laid out for us down on the beach, the better to see the young couple soon to be before us taking their vows. During the ceremony itself, I took no notice of the audience, other than to smile at the squirmy toddler who appeared rather upset that he was not being allowed to accompany his older sister, strewing rose petals, down the aisle. We were intent on the touching ritual, of which we were every bit a part, as it unfolded before us.

Afterwards, during the reception, we were chatting with another couple of Todd’s students who had arrived late, when a woman of about my own age approached us. Leaving Todd to continue his conversation, I permitted her to pull me aside.

She introduced herself as the new wife of a lawyer I knew well. She explained that she and her husband, Roy, had been sitting immediately behind us. He had recognized me, although I am certain that I looked very different at 50 than I had at 35, when we had socialized together frequently. He also did divorce work, representing Chris during his divorce. His wife said later that he had known who I was right away but was embarrassed to say “hello,” apparently appalled that I was not attending with my husband. (Yes, I was!)

Todd looked quite unlike the man Roy recalled from our many Passover seders together.

Serendipity! Of course, it is a small world. And we all know more people than we think we do. Roy finally joined us and we chatted, he recapping his life, including his own divorce and their subsequent marriage, in the intervening years since we had socialized.

Eventually, I asked how his former wife was faring. After a few moments, I realized that I was currently representing her new husband!

It’s not often that divorce lawyers receive invites to weddings of folks who are not close family members. Yet, I’ve seen it happen a few times. Some of our divorce clients, experiencing the loss of their attachment to their spouse, substitute attachment to us instead, at least temporarily. We are now that someone on whom they can rely for support and security. It’s not the same support and security as the marital connection had provided, obviously, but it can be deep and reassuring just the same.

Young as he was (well, certainly younger than Todd and I were), Chris had had to divorce his ex-wife, and Roy Battle, who had also been divorced, had helped him through that difficult process. As a result, they had grown very close.

So how does all of this relate to your professional practices? And does it also relate to your marketing strategies?

Maybe guiding Chris through that moment as his lawyer was easier for Roy because he himself had once had to let go of a romantic attachment. Maybe it was easier for Chris to hear Roy’s guidance because he knew that Roy had endured the same pain. Once he did, he, too, ended up standing at the altar, looking into the eyes of someone else with whom he could share the rest of his life.

Sometimes, we feel uncomfortable sharing our personal experiences with our clients. But who better to show them the way to a better future than people who have already made that journey themselves? This is why I share the stories of my own divorce, my parents’ divorce, growing up fatherless, my sister’s head injury, my “coming down” with Juvenile Diabetes when I was 32 years old, my daughter’s wedding on the beach with just me and my husband as witnesses. . . . Don’t be afraid to share your stories. Clients will connect with you that way and choose you to be their lawyer because of it.

For more on how to market your professional practice more effectively, reach out to me at or find me at Your Collaborative Marketing Coach. Your marketing is my marketing! And if you’d like to learn more about how to become a Collaborative Champion or a Legal Influencer, buy my toolkit or attend my training!

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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