Insight

Lesleigh Wiggs Monahan on What Makes a Good Family Lawyer

Lesleigh Wiggs Monahan of Polidori Franklin Monahan & Beattie discusses her 2019 "Lawyer of the Year" award.

Lesleigh Wiggs Monahan LOTY Interview
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

February 20, 2019 12:17 PM

After three decades in the field, and three “Lawyer of the Year” award wins, Lesleigh Wiggs Monahan knows what it takes to succeed in family law. Practicing out of Denver, Monahan has previously served as the chair of the Colorado Bar Association’s family law section; was elected president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Colorado Chapter; and held the prestigious role of serving on the Supreme Court Standing Committee on Family Issues.

For all her qualifications, Monahan believes that what makes a good family lawyer ultimately comes down to temperament and a sense of larger purpose.

“My recommendation for succeeding in this area of practice is that you have to recognize that it isn’t about you,” Monahan says. “I think that’s really important. It’s about your client and honoring and improving the legal system. I strive to treat opposing counsel, and their clients, and the courts with the utmost courtesy—I think it’s easy to let your emotions or your fatigue or stress interfere with your ability to rise above the conflict. You can be effective, you can be strong, and you can get results that are the goals of your client without setting aside common decency.”

Along with a wealth of career experience, Monahan’s 30-plus years in the courtroom has allowed her to look critically at the changing nature of family law. Turnover on the bench and a subsequent lack of institutional memory among newer judges can make cases more difficult, particularly when the stakes are as life-altering as divorce. Furthermore, a competitive mentality and focus on winning are often the big motivators for junior attorneys, but the experienced family lawyer respects and understands the bigger picture.

“There’s a philosophy or culture of aggressiveness, and it’s really important for a good family lawyer to break through that and talk about finding common ground and resolving issues because a judicial officer if the case goes to trial, is not going to pick a winner and a loser,” Monahan says. “It’s about what’s equitable and fair. I think that’s the part that I find the most difficult as I move into my third decade.”

Family law, like any legal practice, has its challenges. But it also has its share of rewards. For Monahan, that reward is in getting to build meaningful relationships with her clients and making a material difference in their lives. “Without a doubt, it’s connecting with a human being. It’s helping someone to move through this process at a difficult time in their life. And when you finalize divorce successfully—and in my mind, that means settling the case through negotiation—they know that they can move on to their next phase. They’re better for it; they’re not worse. If you can relieve that anxiety with people, I think that’s the best thing you could possibly do.”

Related Articles

Jeanne T. Tate - Tampa 2021 Lawyer of the Year


by Best Lawyers

Family Law Tampa, Florida

Jeanne T. Tate

Anne W. White, Collaborative Law: Family Law, Washington, D.C.


by Best Lawyers

Washington D.C's, 2020 "Lawyer of the Year" Collaborative Law: Family Law

Anne W. White Washington, D.C. LOTY

Split Decisions


by Lindsey Kujawa and Susan A. Hansen

Marriage is changing—and so is divorce. Family lawyers must be there for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Divorce is Changing Family Law

Bringing Choices to Family Law


by Nicole Ortiz

What alternatives do you have to litigation in a divorce?

Why Collaborative Law Could Help your Divorce

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Switzerland™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Switzerland.

Red flag with white cross

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Austria™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Austria.

Red and white stripes

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Belgium™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Belgium.

Black, yellow and red stripes

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Italy™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Italy.

Green, white and red stripes

Destiny Fulfilled


by Sara Collin

Was Angela Reddock-Wright destined to become a lawyer? It sure seems that way. Yet her path was circuitous. This accomplished employment attorney, turned mediator, arbitrator and ADR specialist nonpareil discusses her career, the role of attorneys in society, the new world of post-pandemic work and why new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson represents the future.

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright

It’s All Relative


by Paula Birch Billingsley

Relative adoption can be infant adoption too; it happened to us and was quick, easy and inexpensive.

Private Adoption of A Relative’s Child

Pennsylvania "Lawyer of the Year" 2022


by Best Lawyers

Wendelynne J. Newton is honored as 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" in Pennsylvania for Litigation-Healthcare.

Pennsylvania "Lawyer of the Year" 2022

New England "Lawyer of the Year" 2022


by Best Lawyers

Vincent Lau is honored as 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" in New England for Immigration Law.

New England "Lawyer of the Year"

Connecticut "Lawyer of the Year" 2022


by Best Lawyers

Tanya A. Bovée is honored as 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" in Connecticut for Employment Law-Management.

Connecticut "Lawyer of the Year" 2022

Georgia "Lawyer of the Year" 2022


by Best Lawyers

We highlight seven 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" recipients throughout Georgia.

Georgia "Lawyer of the Year" 2022

Colorado "Lawyer of the Year" 2022


by Best Lawyers

Jane E. Young is honored as 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" in Colorado for Insurance Litigation.

Colorado "Lawyer of the Year" 2022

Trending Articles

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: The Best Lawyers Honorees Behind the Litigation


by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers takes a look at the recognized legal talent representing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in their ongoing defamation trial.

Lawyers for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez


by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Announcing The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from the United Kingdom.

The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom 2023

Announcing The Best Lawyers in France™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from France.

Blue, white and red strips

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes

Education by Trial: Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom


by Margo Pierce

The intricacies of complex lawsuits require extensive knowledge of the legal precedent. But they also demand a high level of skill in every discipline needed to succeed at trial, such as analyzing technical reports and deposing expert witnesses.

Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Belgium™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Belgium.

Black, yellow and red stripes

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France

We Are Women, We Are Fearless


by Deborah S. Chang and Justin Smulison

Athea Trial Lawyers is a female owned and operated law firm specializing in civil litigation, catastrophic energy, wrongful death and product liability.

Athea Trial Law Female Leadership and Success

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

What If Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Had a Premarital Agreement?


by John M. Goralka

Oh, the gritty details we’re learning from the latest court battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. This unfortunate airing of dirty laundry may have been avoided with a prenup. Should you think about getting one yourself?

What If Johnny Depp & Amber Heard Had Prenup?

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany

U.K. Introduces Revisions to Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules


by Gregory Sirico

Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules in

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Destiny Fulfilled


by Sara Collin

Was Angela Reddock-Wright destined to become a lawyer? It sure seems that way. Yet her path was circuitous. This accomplished employment attorney, turned mediator, arbitrator and ADR specialist nonpareil discusses her career, the role of attorneys in society, the new world of post-pandemic work and why new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson represents the future.

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright