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Leon Berger from Dignity EDR

Featured Article written by LY Intern Nithini Perera

I sat down with Leon Berger, director of Dignity EDR, an out-of-court family law resolution service, to discuss his mission to resolve family law matters amicably, quickly, and efficiently.

Leon has over 17 years of experience in family law, and his vast experience has enabled to him to critically evaluate the traditional legal approach towards family law in order to come up with an alternative that focuses on private mediation, arbitration, facilitation, and education rather that litigation.

Leon’s attitude towards separation, the role of lawyers in guiding clients through separation and his advice to anyone going through this process is rather refreshing to see!

Leon discusses how the traditional approach towards separation focuses on litigation, perhaps at the cost of much more important things.

The general narrative is that separation is often followed up by the parties getting a lawyer, writing some angry letters, disputing about property and sometime down the track, reaching a resolution.

Over the years of witnessing his clients going through this process, Leon has observed that litigation has a profound impact on the clients.

‘It keeps people in a state of conflict for usually 12-18 months and sometimes, more than that. It takes over people’s lives’.

Leon believes there are three costs of separation. Although people usually only think about the financial, it is not the most important- just one of the three.

Time is significant cost that people tend to overlook – the time of litigation, the time to get a hearing at the court and the time this process takes away from your ability to heal, readjust and move on.

While waiting for these matters to be resolved, you are not focusing on other important things such as your health, children, or work.

Thirdly, another cost of litigation is the emotional cost of being in conflict with someone- it wears your down and changes you as a person.

Leon wants people to know that there is another option that doesn’t cost as much money, time and doesn’t take an emotional toll on you.

Dignity EDR provides this alternate option by providing out-of-court family law resolution services to those going through separation.

How does Dignity do law differently? It starts when a client walks in.

Leon believes that family law matters can be resolved only by understanding what the client wants, not what the lawyer wants.

‘All we are there for it to help people get where they want to go’.

Secondly, Dignity focuses on a solution-focused approach towards resolving conflict.

Trying to move away from the conflict and the reasons for the separation, Leon encourages his clients to look into the future and focus on the positives.

Thirdly, Dignity has a very different understanding of what it means to be ‘winning’ in family law.

Especially, when it comes to children, Leon believes that winning is not about getting an extra day of the week or an extra holiday with the children.

‘Winning is raising healthy, well-adjusted children that go on to become productive members of the society’.

Winning is reaching a resolution that everyone is happy with and allows everyone to heal and move on from what can be a traumatic experience for many.

Finally Leon leaves us with some advice for anyone who may be going through a separation.

  • Don’t focus on the negatives, focus on the positives and look into the future!
  • Look to solutions, not to problems

This Featured Article post does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area.

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