Thursday is Don Lambdin’s last day in court, at least as a family law attorney.
Lambdin, 83, is retiring after six decades of practicing law, which included a stint as a judge advocate in the Air Force.
“I am depressed that I am not continuing on, but it comes a time when someone probably needs to do something else,” he said.
Lambdin is a Wichita State University graduate who went on to law school at the University of Oklahoma.
“I was always interested in politics and history, and law seemed like the right profession for me,” he said. “I’ve handled many, many divorces and child custody cases through the years.”
Lambdin worked at Lambdin, Lambdin & Fraser, where his daughter Lisa was also a partner and his daughter Susanne was a paralegal.
Despite the reputation that divorce attorneys might have, Lambdin’s own marriage is a long one.
“My wife, Frances, she and I have been married for 63 years,” Lambdin said.
Q. What was it like dealing with so much heartache with families going to court?
A. You know, the old saying is if you are handling criminal cases, you see bad people at their best, and when you’re in the family law area in divorce cases, you see good people at their worst, which I think is probably true.
Q. The divorce business wasn’t quite as brisk when you started your career, was it?
A. You’re right about that because people stayed together. … In Sedgwick County, the divorce rate was approximately 25 percent of the number of marriages that were made … early in my career. … Then we started with more divorces and more divorces to the point where it worked up to where … the divorce rate went up … to 50 percent and higher. So marriages became more of a throwaway-type problem with people.
Q. How did you help people through divorces?
A. I’ve loved dealing with people and trying to work people problems out, and one of the things that I’ve always tried to do is to try to get people into counseling. … One of my first questions was always, “Have you had counseling?”
Q. You were able to save some marriages, right?
A. Simply because they did have counseling, and it really, really helped. … I’ve certainly lost a lot of attorney’s fees as a result, but that is one thing I am proud of.
Q. You’ve been around long enough that your bar association number is kind of unique, isn’t it?
A. I’ve got … probably one of the lowest numbers registered with the Kansas Bar Association. My number is, like, 4,881. Now they’re into somewhere … in the 23,000s. So the number of lawyers has really increased.