McFarling Law Group - Appellate Law
In an insightful interview with Lawyer Monthly, Emily McFarling, the founder of McFarling Law Group, shares her journey into family law and the evolution of her practice since its inception in 2003. Emily delves into the challenges of high-asset divorce cases, balancing legal and emotional aspects in child custody disputes, and the intricacies of family law appeals. She also touches on handling complex international child custody issues, her passion for writing children’s books, and her vision for McFarling Law Group in the ever-changing landscape of family law. Her thoughtful approach and deep commitment to her clients shine through as she discusses the nuances of these sensitive and complex legal matters.
Emily, what inspired you to establish McFarling Law Group and specialize in family law, and how has your approach evolved since the firm’s inception in 2003?
When I first became an attorney, I opened a general practice law firm in Las Vegas. I quickly realized that I wanted to specialize in family law. I loved being able to help families and children and be a voice for so many whose voices were not being heard. Over the years, I better understood the families I worked with by learning more about the high conflict personality types that end up in family court litigation. Through this knowledge, I have been able to focus my approach on both supporting my clients through a potentially overwhelming and draining process while ensuring that I help them to reach their desired result. When clients are litigating against someone who thrives off of conflict and chaos, it is not uncommon for them to want to just settle to be done with the conflict. Unfortunately, family court systems are not set up to minimize the trauma caused by the ongoing conflict. I have evolved my practice to do my best to fight for what my client is entitled to while limiting their exposure to the negative emotional effects of the litigation.
High-asset divorce cases come with unique challenges. Can you discuss your strategies for navigating these complexities and ensuring fair outcomes?
My office is unique in that we are set up to efficiently handle complex litigation cases. I am skilled on setting up systems and strategies to handle difficult cases. Early in a case, we map out what needs to happen and what we are trying to prove and then work along that strategy throughout the case. We maintain processes for tracking all the assets and documents we have to identify and value those assets throughout a divorce case. We do our legal research early to ensure that we are putting on a case that is consistent with Nevada law that can reach the best outcome for our client. In addition to the systems and legal strategy, I bring my experience and abilities in complex calculations to use in high-asset divorce cases. My firm not only utilizes the processes to make sound financial calculations in our own cases, but we also provide consulting and expert services to other law firms to assist in ensuring that a community asset division is equal.
In highly contested child custody cases, how do you balance legal advocacy with addressing the emotional and psychological needs of the children involved?
I have been fortunate in my ability to be selective in who I represent. Because of this and my reputation for fairness and honesty, I do not generally attract clients who are looking to fight for something that is not in their children’s best interests. This makes it easier to balance my representation of my client and the needs of their children when they are consistent, compatible goals. I like to collaborate with my clients to develop the strategy for their case and the specifics of the requests we make to the court based upon what is truly best for the children. I pay attention to the small things that can really affect a child’s or parent’s life. For example, orders detailing how communications occur between parents or between parent and child can have a huge impact on the level of conflict the child experiences. Where and when exchanges take place can also have a huge impact on the children. Sometimes these seemingly small things make a bigger difference than things that seem larger.
As an expert in family law appeals, what are the crucial elements that contribute to a successful appeal in these cases?
The biggest thing that is crucial to a successful appeal is the ability to really look at the details in a case and determine what was done incorrectly. This requires knowledge of many aspects of the law as well as a creative mindset. You also need to have the ability to go in and fight for something while knowing that it has a low chance of winning, because in most appeals there is a very high burden to overturn the district court judge. But in many cases, even when there is a low chance of winning, it is worthwhile to try because of what is at stake. When you are looking at a situation in which a person has lost custody of their child and an appeal is the last chance to try to get custody back, it can be worthwhile to try even when it is a difficult case to make. Likewise, when there is a lot of money at stake, it may be worthwhile to appeal even with a low chance of winning. I look at each appeal both for what potential errors could win us the appeal and the value (whether emotional or financial) of what is at issue.
How do you approach complex international child custody issues and parental kidnapping cases, given their multi-jurisdictional nature?
I particularly like litigating parental kidnapping, especially international parental kidnapping cases because they can be a big challenge, but with an extreme result one way or the other in the end. At the end of a kidnapping case, one parent will have custody, and the other parent may not be able to see the child again or may have very limited contact afterward. Even when there is a low chance of winning, as the attorney for a parent fighting a parental kidnapping case, I will need to put on the best case possible because there is so much at stake.
Could you share how your interest in writing children’s books influences your perspective and approach to family law?
Writing children’s books and writing legal briefs are somewhat similar skills in that you have to be very clear and direct in what you are trying to say. At some point I plan to write more children’s books aimed at children going through situations involving family law matters. I like to make sure that no matter what, I always see the work I do through the lens of the children that it affects.
Looking to the future, what are your aspirations for McFarling Law Group in the evolving landscape of family law?
My goal for McFarling Law Group is to continue to provide the highest level of legal representation but at a cost that is accessible to the everyday person who is looking out for what is best for their children or to make sure that they receive what they are entitled to in any family law case.View in Winners Edition >