Kennedy & Blackshire, LLC: A Partnership of Legal Advocates for Families
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Photography by Anne
A little over two years into their partnership, veteran family law attorneys Bree Kennedy and Pamela Blackshire have built a team singularly focused on client advocacy—being empathic when empathy is needed, and being fierce when ferocity is required. “We both feel like we have a duty to try to do good in the end, whatever that looks like,” Blackshire said. “For one person, that means vigorous advocacy; for another it may mean helping people work things out.”
With a combined four-plus decades of legal experience, Kennedy and Blackshire occasionally found themselves on opposite sides of the table. “I had worked with Bree as opposing counsel for years, and I had a lot of respect for her,” Blackshire said. “I knew we also had the same kind of work ethic, and I think coming from different backgrounds, and both [of us] having family law experience under our belts, it really helps not just to get ideas, but to get experiences.” It seemed like a natural progression, bringing Kennedy’s Hilton Head Island private firm together with Blackshire’s 20-plus years of legal experience and 14-plus years of family law practice with another island law firm.
“I think we have attempted to create a boutique-style family firm where we come from different backgrounds,” Kennedy said. “We really try to use those backgrounds. With complex cases, we have each other to bounce ideas off of, and we have a full team if we need to litigate. We think in different manners, and that really helps to have a different perspective—to get ideas I hadn’t thought about, and vice versa.”
The law practice of Kennedy & Blackshire provides representation for issues related to divorce, child custody, visitation, alimony, child support, adoption, and related legal matters. Their thoughtfully assembled team members are an important part of the personal connections the partners strive for with each relationship. “Because it’s so sensitive and personal,” Blackshire said. “We’re coming alongside people at the hardest time in their lives, in most situations. We have deliberately found staff members who are very friendly and patient. I feel we have been fortunate to have a staff that makes people feel like they are really helped by holding a hand through a crummy time.”
Both partners have experienced the losses related to divorce within their families. Blackshire believes this helps them responsibly lead clients from the first exploratory meeting through whatever steps are deemed necessary to achieve the client’s desired outcomes. “I understand from a personal level the dynamics of what that can mean for a family, and what that means when people are able to do it well and amicably, and when people do not do it so well.”
While they do work with some of the more life-affirming legal needs of their clients, like adoption, it is most often the business of divorce and issues involving children, custody, and visitation that are addressed and negotiated. Between the partners, they have children ranging from elementary school age through college age. “That is helpful, because when we’re talking custody, it’s easy to relate to a child who is your child’s age,” Kennedy said.
The Kennedy & Blackshire team recommends a proactive approach where early information gathering may help clients to take control of their situation before someone else does. “I think it’s a little bit of an art to advocate firmly for your client, but not create more dissention than is a natural part of the process. That’s easier in some cases than others, because you can’t control other people’s behavior,” Blackshire said. With many cases, there are emotional and financial costs that the team knows will become greater the longer the process takes. “There’s a place where we’re going to close up this file and they’re going to have to co-parent for a long time, or they’re going to have to move on from here. The sooner we’re walking alongside someone, the better able we are to be proactive.”
Both attorneys serve as Guardian ad litem, accepting appointments by the court system, representing children in visitation or custody cases and investigating and reporting to the court to assist in judicial decision-making. Requiring even more rigorous training, Kennedy and Blackshire are also both certified family court mediators. “In family court, all cases that can’t settle on their own are required to be mediated,” Blackshire said. “We spend a lot of our practice helping our clients get a settlement, but if they can’t get a settlement, at some point we would have to hire a mediator to mediate between them.”
“It’s a very different role than the one that we typically play in representing parties in family court litigation,” Kennedy said of her experience as a mediator. “It is also a breath of fresh air. It’s really nice working with parties to try to create a solution to their problems, with the theory being that the parties have within themselves the solution, and to get to the end of a long hard day and come away with a plan for moving forward. It’s very rewarding work. The parties have almost complete control over what the outcome of their case looks like.”
Bringing together their collective experience, their personal approach, and their compassionate and skilled team, the family law practice of Kennedy & Blackshire, LLC works for their clients with empathy and fierce advocacy. “We have the duty to try to make what is, most of the time, the hardest thing people go though, as easy as it can be,” Blackshire said. “Even if it’s an amicable situation, it’s still a loss.”
Kennedy & Blackshire, LLC is located at 70 Arrow Road, Building 6, Hilton Head Island. For more information, please call (843) 341-5555 or visit kennedyblackshire.com.