Family law attorney Mary Muse has clear advice for her clients.
“I tell my clients ‘Don’t waste your time,” she said. “It’s time you can’t get back.”
For 32 years the El Dorado Hills lawyer has advocated on behalf of clients going through difficult changes — divorces, separations, child custody and support issues. She’s seen the good, the bad, and the downright ugly and doesn’t mind getting tough with her clients, especially when children are involved.
“There are some horror stories, extreme horror stories,” said Muse, 61. “But for the most part people want to do what’s best for their children.”
Mediation is Muse’s preferred method of conflict resolution — no courtrooms, just people talking over their differences and finding common ground. This style of collaborative law is growing, according to Muse.
“I try to do something good for families that are now going into a new relationship,” she explained, adding that she likes to educate her clients and help them develop reasonable expectations, creating a path they can go down together.
A quick resolution is the best outcome, Muse said.
This helps ease the pain of the process and the pain clients feel in their wallets. “I have to make sure my client isn’t abused financially in the process,” Muse said.
For the most part, Muse said other local attorneys do the same and she enjoys working with them. She said she also appreciates the relationships developed with her clients; other areas of law don’t result in such personal connections.
Those connections became even more important after Muse was diagnosed with colon cancer. She said the call from her doctor was “a game changer” in both the way she lives her life and the way she practices law.
“I’m really sensitive now of how things can change suddenly,” said Muse, adding that her cancer is now under control.
By becoming a lawyer, Muse followed in her parents’ footsteps. She studied at the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and is a member of the El Dorado County Bar Association. In 1997 Muse was named El Dorado Hills Citizen of the Year.
Muse and her husband Bill Fisher, married 40 years, live in El Dorado Hills. They have seven children, two of whom are attorneys and another is in law school.
“They weren’t deterred,” Muse joked.
When she’s not at the office Muse loves spending time with her family, especially her four grandchildren (one more on the way). She’s also helping one of her daughters plan her upcoming nuptials.
“I’m very, very fortunate in my family life,” said Muse.