Blending Coffee & Law
Lawyer brings divorce mediation over a cup of coffee
LORI W. ROSBRUGH speaks openly and honestly about her work as a divorce lawyer.
“I have not woken up every morning of the last twenty-five years excited about going to the office to do divorce law. It’s hard work. It can be emotionally draining and frustrating if you let it. But it can be incredibly rewarding if you do it right.”
She has recently launched a creative approach to divorce mediation, blending coffee and law with Grounds for Divorce Mediation.
Rosbrugh started her own boutique law practice in 2007, devoting the majority of her career to family law, including child custody, support and asset division incident to divorce, stepparent adoptions, termination of parental rights, property settlements, protective orders, and divorce. She also represents clients charged with contempt for non-payment of child support as a court-appointed attorney, work she finds extremely gratifying.
She says, “My divorce attorney motto is ‘the devil is in the details.’ I cannot overstate the importance of attending to the practical housekeeping details in divorce settlements.”
In early 2022, Rosbrugh launched Grounds for Divorce Mediation, an alternative to resolving divorce issues in court, settling issues in a confidential, informal, non-adversarial setting. And most often, over a cup of coffee, always made with Costa Rican coffee beans hand-delivered to Rosbrugh on her trips to coastal Playa Guiones by her friend Gerardo.
The idea for Grounds for Divorce Mediation had been on Rosbrugh’s mind for years.
“My interest in transitioning to full-time mediator had been building for several years. I gained the most traction when the name and business model came into better focus during the forced downtime of the pandemic last year,” she says. “It was a ‘feed mayonnaise to the tuna fish’ idea during a round of what-if brainstorming, a common pastime in my household.”
And a sign in her office hung for the benefit of her clients which says “leap and the net will appear” spoke to her desire to make the best with the skills she had acquired. “I finally took my own advice,” she says.
Rosbrugh received her undergraduate degree in fine art with a minor in psychology from the University of South Carolina and her juris doctor from the University of Florida, graduating with no real interest in being a lawyer. Internships along the way with an architect and at a residential treatment center for abused children ruled out those career paths. As the only female attorney at her first law firm in Orlando, Florida, she honed her legal brief writing skills in transactional law. When she moved to Wilmington with her husband for his engineering career in 1997, she worked in construction law, transitioning to family law when the practice expanded. She says, “After 25 years of practicing law, I have now accepted the fact that I am a lawyer.”
Those years cultivated the necessary skills for Rosbrugh to operate Grounds for Divorce Mediation. Rosbrugh follows through with tasks until completion and truly listens to what the parties say they need as an outcome. She allows the parties to be heard and feel engaged in the process without heading down every rabbit hole. Everything is facilitated with a healthy dose of common sense.
Rosbrugh advises that Grounds for Divorce Mediation offers many benefits over court-determined divorce. Working effectively and efficiently in one-on-one relationships with clients, she shortens the time to resolution compared to the time it takes in the court system. Divorcing couples benefit by the ability to stay in control of the terms. Details, often overlooked in court hearings, are worked out. There are financial benefits, too. Resolving the legal issues through mediation avoids the risk and cost of a trial.
And what about the benefits of coffee? Rosbrugh says, “If divorce is going to happen, why not talk it out over a cup of coffee rather than battle it out in court? The inclusion of coffee in the business model is as much about setting an inviting mood as it is about having it available to drink.”
The pandemic gave Rosbrugh pause. “It gave me the realization that life is precious and our existence is as much fragile as it is resilient. If divorce happens, try your best to work out the legal issues so that you can move on with your life. You owe it to yourself and your children to try mediation as an alternative to court,” she says.
Rosbrugh is helping families get on with their lives with fewer battle scars. She concludes, “My clients have been the main reason I continue to handle divorce cases. Their courage inspires me. And their gratitude motivates me.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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