Friday, June 1, 2021

Collaborative Practice in Australia and New Zealand

I've just returned from two weeks of intensive training and speaking about Collaborative Practice in both New Zealand and Australia.

In Auckland, New Zealand, family law solicitors from many communities around New Zealand attended a keynote speech and an afternoon workshop at which they learned the basics: what collaborative law and interdisciplinary collaborative practice are, where they originated, and the unique opportunities these models offer for values-based, respectful, future-oriented, creative problem solving aimed at a healthy transition for both adults and any children. Enthusiasm for a follow-up set of trainings in early '08 was evident.

In OZ, it's apparent that collaborative law and interdisciplinary collaborative practice are well launched as mainstream conflict resolution options for couples ending their intimate relationships. In Brisbane and Sydney, Australia, I was pleased to meet many of the leaders in the collaborative movement and of the broader conflict resolution movement (including an academician, a woman in her eighties who singlehandedly developed and disseminated a self-help conflict resolution model that all of us can learn from, several founders of collaborative practice groups, and even one Sydney solicitor who had attended a collaborative training of mine in London several years ago).

The Attorney General of Australia, Philip Ruddock, attended a reception at the Law Society of Sydney following my two-day collaborative training there, at which he reiterated his deep and genuine support for the collaborative movement. He's already shown that support concretely: a commission he appointed has rendered a comprehensive report, under his auspices, which offers specific recommendations for how to encourage high quality collaborative legal practice in Australia. And in March 2007, five linked interactive websites (one for each Australian state with trained collaborative practice groups) were launched by him personally, within the Family Court building in Sydney, witnessed by the court's Chief Justice, Diana Bryant, who spoke via a video link-up from Melbourne. At the law society reception, he expressed receptivity to further support from his office for collaborative endeavors, both Australian and international.

In Brisbane, I had the privilege of working with practitioners from several states and a spectrum of practice groups, many of whom had attended prior trainings either with me, in the U.S., or in their own states with other collaborative trainers.

In all three cities, Lorraine Lopich, a dedicated and visionary collaborative lawyer, assisted and offered perspectives on current developments in Australian collaborative practice. I'm indebted to her for that assistance, for her work in putting together the Sydney reception, and for the attention she paid to helping me meet other leaders in the collaborative movement in Brisbane and Sydney.

All these events were sponsored and produced by LexisNexis of Australia and New Zealand, with evident enthusiasm and professionalism.

My sense by the time I left Sydney earlier this week was that the time is ripe for the leaders of Australian collaborative practice to take their efforts to the next level--collaborating nationally as a unified movement that expresses a consistent core message throughout Australia.

When I return--perhaps in early 2008--I hope to help in any way I can.