Boundary Dispute Law has been my sole occupational focus for a decade. I started drilling down on this nano-niche of real property law after I turned my back on being a “China Hand.” I have decided it is time for me to again change. Why?

Every once in a while, one should take stock and figure out if they are still on course. In my case I’m not. I need to make some big changes. I need to again draw my attention and intention to that which I find I can do to most meaningfully help people. By way of analogy, consider this story of the Starfish Savior.

One day a man on vacation arose at daybreak and went down to the beach. All along the beach, absolutely everywhere, there were starfish. Then he noticed he was not alone. There was a local woman along the beach engaged in some sort of activity. So, he decided to investigate.

As the vacationer approached, he saw that the local would pick up a starfish and fling it into the ocean. Then, she picked up another and threw it as well. She did this over and over and over again.

So, the vacationer decided to approach and then asked her: “Why are you doing this?” Her answer was relatively simple: “To save the starfish from the sun which will soon scorch them.” Dumbfounded, the vacationer responded: “But, there are so many. It doesn’t make any difference.”

Pausing for a moment only, the local replied: “It does to this one.” She then threw it into the water and continued on her task.

Let’s break down how well this story captures my thoughts. First, notice that the local is doing something repeatedly. At least in this domain, not incidentally a domain for which she receives no financial reward, she is doing something that she believes to be meaningful.

The vacationer does not see the situation in the same light. Though the vacationer’s occupation is not mentioned because that doesn’t matter with respect to the starfish, it appears to him that this activity is meaningless.

How can something be meaningful and meaningless at the same time? Well, as the Starfish Savior story illustrates, it is because we are the ones who attach meaning to our activities and possessions – i.e. our occupations. Our occupations, in turn, vest meaning into our respective lives. Just as importantly, everyone vests meaning to their activities and possessions … differently.

The day to day job of a boundary dispute attorney has become meaningless for me. I can’t envision pursuing this line of work in the same manner any longer. I am in the process of making some significant alterations. This isn’t to say that the work doesn’t matter. It also is not to say that I intend to completely unplug from my rich store of knowledge.

Helping neighbors to resolve their issues is an important aim. In this increasingly interconnected world, we have all become neighbors. There will always be conflict. Often, that conflict will require skilled assistance to resolve.

The problem is that whereas the local cares about doing her best for the individual starfish which she saves, my primary aim had been to make systemic improvement so all but the most unlucky of starfish can be saved. In addition to learning mediation, my goal has been to learn and and depict boundary dispute cases in an effort to sidestep needless litigation.

I have developed a diagnostic tool for this purpose … in theory. The tool is one which visually renders the merits of their case so people can determine whether the pursuit of a lawsuit is worthwhile. I have thought about this tool for years.

I started my most rudimentary formulations of this tool as an undergraduate when studying The Legal Environment of Business. My idea then gained continued clarity when I produced an independent study called Legal Geometrics.

Finally, it was an idea which I had reduced to full conceptual form five years ago when I published a couple of articles to demonstrate it in the King County Bar Bulletin. See [HERE] and [HERE].

But that’s about as far as I have taken it. Oh sure, I have pushed the needle along the way a little bit further here and there by working on graphics to better demonstrate individual cases. I also developed a depictional spreadsheet which assists case assessments. But for the most part a half decade has gone by for me of toil with the messiness of boundary disputes in which I have worked to save individual clients as the native who has taken on the role of the Starfish Savior.

Instead, it is time to get on to the business of evangelizing the tool which when reduced to form will not only save the starfish all along the waterfront, but even more importantly be used more importantly to help people use all the time, emotion, and time that they would otherwise waste and devote it to “saving themselves” – i.e. self-improving.

I fully recognize there are some fights with a neighbor which must occur. As anyone can attest, the world is not absent very mean bullies!

Beyond this though, it is my belief that if people put in even one-tenth as much into improving themselves as they might otherwise to force changes in their neighbor, they would be way ahead of the game.

So, where does this leave me? Instead of boundary dispute law, I am commencing a pivot so that my practice’s primary aim becomes engaging in work which assists people to do boundary breakthroughs as a life coach.

Does this mean that I will no longer give initial assessments? Not necessarily, if there are people in the market that value knowledge over a 30 minute sales pitch, then perhaps there is some business left for me in this domain after all. Also, if both neighbors recognize their relationship with each other is more important than the boundary dispute, I am more than willing to come in as an arbitrator. I have no idea if there will be many takers in these two categories?

I do know that I want to improve myself. Essentially, I am conducting a repurposed journey of self-discovery – one which will not tie me up in the litigious and clerical aspects of law.

My decision is made. I’m excited for the future. If you, family, or friends are wanting to generate additional excitement for your futures too, I invite you to join me by subscribing.

Let’s make some “Boundary Breakthroughs” together in 2019 … and beyond. Cheers!

Photo Credit: Pedro Lastra, Key West, FL