Spokane-based M.D.H. Law PS, which does business as Hodgson Law Office, has added a third attorney to expand its capabilities, says Mark Hodgson, founding attorney of the firm.
“Our services are pretty much full-service family law,” Hodgson says. “We’ve expanded our ability to take on more cases, as well as larger cases and more complex cases.”
The firm specializes in family law, including various types of divorce cases; child support, custody, and visitation; parenting plans; domestic violence and protection orders; prenuptial and postnuptial agreements; unmarried couple cases; same-sex family law; adoption; and more.
Because of the growing number of more complex, higher conflict cases, Hodgson Law Office has grown from a one-lawyer firm when it was founded in 2003, to a three-lawyer firm to be able to take on more cases and help more people, Hodgson says.
“(With) the complex cases, you only have so much capacity to take them on, and so with additional lawyers, additional staff, we’re able to take on a greater amount of these complex cases and also organize them better,” Hodgson says. “It’s very difficult for a single attorney to take on two complex cases. I’ve tried—it about killed me.”
In addition to the attorneys, Hodgson Law Office employs two legal assistants, two paralegals, and a firm administrator.
The firm is located at 1321 W. Broadway, just west of Spokane County Superior Court. It generally serves clients in Spokane, Stevens, Lincoln, and Whitman counties.
There are many variables that can make a family law case more complex, Hodgson says, especially when children are involved. Cases involving domestic violence, abuse, neglect, and addiction, or allegations of those, become more complicated and require more time and attention from a legal standpoint.
“It can be so many different things that come into parenting,” Hodgson says.
Regarding divorce cases, some can be more straightforward—a couple who have no children and don’t own any property—while others can take a little more time and work to hash out, for example if one spouse owns a business, he says.
“It can be very difficult to ascertain what the business is worth,” Hodgson says.
Some divorces may seem more straightforward to someone on the outside looking in, but Hodgson says he’s noticed there is no “regular divorce,” because his clients often are coming to him on one of their worst days.
“Everybody’s divorce, to them, is complex,” Hodgson says. “If you hired a lawyer, to you it’s complex.”
Despite the anger, sadness, and other emotions his clients are experiencing when they go through a divorce, Hodgson says he views cases from a different perspective.
“When you get to divorce, it’s just business,” he says. “It has nothing to do with emotion.”
Hodgson Law Office has seen an increase in clients since adding a third lawyer, Hodgson says, although an increase in advertising could also play a part in that.
“The best part about getting good attorneys is that you get different skillsets,” he says. “When you get different skillsets, you really get the ability to help a greater range of people.”
In addition to an extra lawyer and increased advertising, the pandemic may have caused an uptick in the need for family law, Hodgson says.
“COVID really did a number on everything,” he says. “If you got stuck in your house for six months with your spouse, if you had a crack in your marriage, there was a fissure. Marriages blew up left and right.”
The pandemic also created a backlog of cases in Spokane’s courts.
“It appears that the motion docket is more crowded than ever, but also the courts are underfunded,” he says.
Spokane could use more judges, Hodgson says, although he notes that the quality of courthouse staff, including judges, has remained high despite the backlog of cases.
“I think we have a very talented bench in Spokane,” he says.
While actual divorces represent some of his firm’s cases, Hodgson says cases stemming from divorces are a large part of what he and his team deal with. Some of the more common cases they take on have to do with child support and parenting plans, including cases involving the enforcement and contempt of those agreements.
Although they are typically more complex, Hodgson says he generally prefers working cases that involve children.
“I’d rather argue about a parenting plan than property,” he says.
Cases revolving around property typically just require math—how to evenly split up assets—Hodgson says.
“Whereas kids, there’s a lot to it, and seems to me like you’re fighting for something a little more meaningful,” he says.
Hodgson grew up in Spokane and earned his law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law. He previously worked at Camp Reed for six summers, and then with higher-risk children at Excelsior Wellness, a Spokane nonprofit, he says.
“Family Law kind of turned into a natural fit for me,” Hodgson says. “I’ve been working with kids for years.”
Hodgson says he hopes the firm will continue to grow and be able to take on more clients.
“I think we would like to grow a little bit more, to get a couple more attorneys in here,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of work that can be done.”
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