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    Kristen Hall finds the bright side in family law disputes

    Kristen Hall, the founder of her own law practice, is in the business of problem-solving and mediation. But more importantly, she’s in the business of helping families heal — and that’s the way she wants it to be.

    Hall, the sole proprietor of Hall Mediation and Law, says she practices law with a “servant’s heart.” Focused primarily on collaborative divorce and estate planning, Hall knows how to manage conflicts and understands how emotions can get in the way of the decision-making processes.

    “The niche I’ve gone into is helping people resolve conflict so they can still have a relationship afterward,” Hall said. “Because it’s very hard to do that, whether you’re going through a divorce, whether you’re fighting who is going to take care of your elderly parents. That process in itself has a lot of collateral damage.”

    That approach stems from her personal tribulations.

    Hall grew up in Des Moines and graduated from Roosevelt High School. She attended Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and graduated in 1993 with a degree in communications. She then worked with her father in the family business for a couple of years. In 1995, Hall went to law school at Drake University; she graduated three years later.

    But that’s when times started to get tough.

    In 1999, Hall’s mother — just 61 at the time — passed away suddenly. A year later, Hall had a son who was stillborn. In 2001, her daughter was born the day after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2002, Hall’s grandmother died. Her second daughter was born in 2003. It was a hectic period for Hall and her family, to say the least.

    “All of that on top of each other,” Hall said. “It gave me a very good understanding of grief and how it affects how we think and react. It’s very easy to get stuck in crisis mode, and that’s not a good place to make a decision.”

    Hall stayed at home with her children for 10 years before starting her own practice in 2011. She knew she wanted to avoid traditional family law. She didn’t enjoy the constant conflict. She wanted to be a peaceful mediator, especially since these issues leave lasting and sometimes damaging effects on families.

    Twenty-five years before Hall’s mother died, she was diagnosed with an incurable condition. Because of that discovery, Hall’s mother lived a mindful life and was open about what should happen after she passed. Hall considers those conversations a blessing and encourages those discussions in her practice.

    “We would have these very awkward conversations of what she wanted,” Hall said. “And as strange as those conversations were when they happened, we never doubted what she wanted us to do when she died. That was a gift, in hindsight. That’s why I try and help families to have those tough conversations. It’s easier when you have that neutral facilitator.”

    Hall is the sole owner and operator of her practice, but she is a part of a central Iowa collaborative group that includes other divorce attorneys, mental help professionals and financial experts. She is also grateful for the support she receives from NAWBO Iowa, which she joined in 2013 after attending the Women Mean Business Summit. 

    “It is a tremendous resource,” Hall said. “I have found other women and resources I can trust. As my business grows and I’ve met new challenges, I know where to go for answers. I know people who can help me, even though it’s a tricky conversation because you are admitting you don’t know something. Having a place where you can ask questions and you know people won’t judge you is valuable as a solo practitioner.”