Rayna Brachmann, Attorney
When I decided to go to law school, like many young, idealistic folks, I was certain that I would be able to use my law degree for lofty goals. I would have an impact, I would change things, I would make the legal system more accessible to more people. My cases would matter! Three years of law school and the crushing debt that came with it made me a little more realistic about my options. I was not in a financial position to work on impact litigation for a non-profit and still afford to pay my bills. I accepted a position with a judge at the Family Court telling her in no uncertain terms that my long term goals did not include practicing family law.
After being reassured that a desire to practice family law was not a pre-requisite to working as a law clerk in the Family Court, I accepted a job with Judge Schumacher. I extended my clerkship for two years and learned a tremendous amount from a thoughtful, articulate, intelligent and skilled jurist. I left the Family Court bound for any area of law other than family law.
I spent two years with a well respected law firm practicing a variety of civil law including development, real estate work and construction defect. The intellectual rigors of the work were very satisfying to me. But something was missing. That something was the feeling that the work I was doing mattered on a personal, human level. So I decided to return to family law. I did so with some hesitation. When I finished my clerkship, I was unsettled about the tone of the dialogue by some members of the family law bar. I was underwhelmed by the aspects of people that I saw highlighted in some of the most contentious family law cases. And I was worried that I would not be able to bridge the gap between the way I wanted to practice law and a way that would be effective for my clients. Despite my concerns, I returned to family law.
I have been licensed to practice family law since 2003 and have exclusively practicing family law since then for all but two years, including my two year clerkship with the Family Court. I never leave the office at the end of the day wondering if the work that I do matters. I know with certainty that it does. It matters to my clients, to their children, and to their extended families. I try to be thoughtful in my approach to cases, always keeping in mind that even though I represent one side of a case, in every instance there is a family at the center of the dispute. Where there are children involved, the family, albeit a post-divorce altered family, will need to cooperate with one another for the benefit of the children. I do not believe that the most effective family lawyer is the one who takes a scorched earth approach. Most of my cases settle. I believe that most cases can and should be settled rather than litigated. I always remind my clients that there are actual costs (higher attorney’s fees) and emotional costs of litigating a family law matter. I have a strong working relationship with many of my colleagues and I always explore settlement options on the front end of my cases because I believe that it is to the benefit of most of my clients most the time.
However, when a case cannot be resolved without a fight, I am a strong, honest, thorough and effective advocate for my clients. I do not hesitate to go to Court if the other party or their counsel is unreasonable in their expectations. I am respected by the Judges because I have demonstrated that I will take reasonable positions on behalf of my clients and I endeavor to never make things worse for my clients.
Family law clients trust us with some of the most personal, stressful and intimate details of their lives. I am respectful of the people who share those details of their lives and I work hard to help my clients get through a difficult and challenging process with good advice and realistic expectations.
I know that even though I do not try issues that end up in headlines or law school textbooks, the work that I do absolutely does make a difference. It makes a difference on a case by case basis for my clients and their children and for that reason, I am happy I ended up practicing family law in Reno, Nevada.
In furtherance of my committment to the practice of family law, I recently became certified as a specialist in family law by the Nevada State Bar. Certified family law specialists must devote at least one third of their practice to family law and attend at least ten hours of continuing education in the area of family law annually.
In 2013 I was elected as a member of the Nevada State Bar Family Law Executive Council. As a member of the Council, I assist with putting together the annual Family Law Conference in Ely, assist with amicus briefs to the Nevada Supreme Court, and serve on the Family Law Specialization subcommittee which drafts and administers the Family Law Specialization exam. It is an honor to be chosen by my colleagues to assist with the administration of the Family Law Section of the Nevada State Bar.
From 2007 through 2013 I was a member of the CASA Foundation Board. I stepped down from that position when I joined the Family Law Executive Council in 2013.