Tuesday, June 26, 2021

IACP Ethics Task Force Responds to Maverick Colorado Ethics Opinion

In February 2007, a committe of the Colorado Bar Association published an ethics opinion critical of collaborative law--the sole negative opinion to appear in the seventeen years that collaborative lawyers have been doing this work.

Many have criticized the opinion as poorly reasoned and a masterpiece of a technical legalistic approach that takes no account of clients as thinking people capable of making intelligent conflict resolution process choices on their own behalf.

Now, people concerned about the opinion have a useful resource to turn to which should help rebut the popular misconception in cyberspace that somehow the Colorado opinion means that the practice of collaborative law is unethical. Of course it's not. Not even in Colorado.

Read the opinion and use it. Here is the link (the article will appear in the next issue of the Collaborative Review):


Pauline Tesler's Collaborative Training Programs

My current collaborative training programs are described below. All programs include either information about or instruction in interdisciplinary collaboration. Mental health and financial professionals are welcome at all trainings but can be “trained” to IACP standards only in interdisciplinary events that include a trainer from one’s own profession.

Groups or organizations interested in sponsoring a training can reach me at:

“Starting Out Right as a Collaborative Lawyer”: an Introductory (Level One, Basic) two-day training for lawyers providing a sound foundation in the nuts and bolts of collaborative legal practice, in a broad conceptual framework focused on powerfully motivating participants to make the paradigm shift. Meets all IACP standards for trainings, trainers, and practitioners. This program starts with “why”: why current approaches to divorce conflict resolution don’t really help couples reach optimal lasting solutions, and why collaborative family law is so powerfully effective in doing so. The conceptual material is presented in a lively, challenging manner that spotlights unexamined assumptions about what a family lawyer’s job really is, before moving into demonstrations, roleplays, and discussion that provide a solid foundation for launching a collaborative practice.

Intensive “Starting Out Right as a Collaborative Lawyer”: an Introductory (Level One, Basic) three-day training for lawyers that provides an outstanding foundation for launching a collaborative practice. In addition to the components of the two-day program, this program offers expanded roleplay of an entire collaborative case, plus hands-on introduction to interest-based negotiations. This program can also be offered in a four-day format, which includes more extended training in client-centered interest-based negotiations.

“Becoming Excellent at Collaborative Practice”
an Intermediate/Advanced training for lawyers in both one-day and two-day formats, intended for lawyers who have completed three to six collaborative cases. This program focuses on the understandings and skills essential for high-quality collaborative work, with special emphasis on “Act One” (opening moves) phase of a collaborative case. Through demonstrations, roleplay, discussion, and other experiences, participants will develop enhanced capabilities in such areas as: informed consent to collaborative representation, clarifying your core message regarding collaborative law and interdisciplinary collaboration, building a powerful foundation with the client, using process anchors effectively, developing a congruent protocol for first contacts with clients and first fourway meetings, identifying difficult clients and handling buy-in decisions with them, building effective client commitment to the collaborative process, and ensuring clear process understandings with colleagues.

“Taking it to the Next Level: Highest Potential Collaborative Legal Practice”
an Advanced Seminar for lawyers who have completed ten or more collaborative cases. This is a one-day event, customized for the needs of those who attend, which focuses on taking participants from where they are to a more sophisticated level of understanding and skill in collaborative practice. Highly interactive and spontaneous, this seminar focuses in the morning session on identifying the replicable characteristics of participants’ most successful cases and the remediable characteristics of the least successful cases. The afternoon session is organized around particular problems that arise in collaborative cases, such as: identifying and working with difficult clients and difficult professionals; case-specific approaches to impasse; good faith issues and how to address them; the case that goes south; when and how to terminate; communication and boundary issues on the professional team; alternatives to termination; and other complex challenges.

“Building Vibrant Collaborative Practices and Practice Groups”:
a one or two-day workshop, for both interdisciplinary and lawyer-only practice groups, focusing on the interface between individual clarity, conviction, and commitment to collaborative practice; strong, participatory, focused practice groups; and powerful communication of the collaborative message to the community. This popular workshop integrates skill-building aspects (strengthening practitioners’ understanding of the unique conflict resolution power of collaborative practice and their ability to communicate it effectively to clients and others) with strategic planning components (building congruent and powerful individual and practice group core messages, enhancing structure and focus of practice group, building a targeted public education campaign and member commitment to its implementation). These workshops can be customized for the needs of particular communities and can be adapted to a retreat format or expanded to a three-day intensive workshop.

"Making Your Practice Group All it Can Be": a one or two-day workshop , for both interdisciplinary and lawyer-only practice groups, co-presented with psychologist Peggy Thompson, Ph.D. This workshop includes interactive exercises and Powerpoint presentation, as well as spontaneous roleplay and discussion, all aimed at identifying and addressing the challenges the members perceive as standing in the way of the practice group moving to the "next level". The group itself identifies the areas to be addressed, which may have to do with building trust among the professionals, getting the message out accurately and powerfully to the community and referral sources, working more smoothly and effectively as a team with clients and one another, or any of a broad spectrum of other issues. The focus is on communicating clearly and honestly about issues in the practice group and planning strategies for solutions. Dr. Thompson brings an Appreciative Inquiry perspective to the workshop. This workshop is less structured than the preceding workshop and focuses more on communications and trust-building among practice group members.

“Harnessing the Power of the Team: Evidence-Based Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce Team Training”:
this is a two-day or three-day training meeting all IACP standards for trainers, trainings, and practitioners. The training provides a complete beginning foundation in interdisciplinary team collaborative divorce practice, using presentation, demonstration, roleplay, discussion, and other modalities. This training is unique in several respects. First, it provides instruction in all modes of interdisciplinary collaborative practice, from “referral mode” to integrated team collaboration, with emphasis on the latter, the “Rolls Royce” of interdisciplinary practice. Second, the focus is on starting with what clients need, and building interdisciplinary services in configurations that have been shown to meet those needs most effectively. Third, the training recognizes that lawyers need more than a three-day team training to master the minimum skills and understandings needed for competent collaborative legal practice. For that reason, the training is intended for lawyers who have already taken an introductory or basic collaborative law training, as we believe this is a particularly effective way for lawyers to learn interdisciplinary team collaboration. On Day One of the training each discipline works separately; the lawyers’ day is an intermediate collaborative law training, while the other two professions have an introductory training in collaborative practice. Day Two introduces each profession to the role of the other two professions in collaborative divorce. The remainder of the training focuses on building strong, effective professional teams and developing understandings and skills needed to work effectively with clients in an interdisciplinary model.

Followup mentoring via telephone bridge or video conferencing can be built into the training design for all events.

British Collaborative Lawyers on Wheels

Legal eagles join big bike ride for NSPCC
By Katharine Lawley

Solicitors from different firms in Salisbury, Bournemouth and Southampton met at Brockenhurst Railway Station to start a bike ride across the New Forest to raise funds for the NSPCC. Picture by Ian Jackson DB2279P3

SOLICITORS from Salisbury, Southampton and Bournemouth swapped their business suits for cycling gear to pedal around the New Forest in aid of NSPCC.

The group of collaborative family lawyers, some joined by partners, set out from the cycle hire shop at Brockenhurst train station on the 21-mile circular route, much of it off-road.

They wore white T-shirts featuring the NSPCC Big Bike Ride logo and the slogan Collaborative Family Lawyers - doing it altogether better'.

Among those taking part were Caroline Frost of Whitehead Vizard, Andrew Mercer and Lisa Carter of Trethowans, Amanda Bryant and Jason Copp of Bonallack & Bishop, Tina Coward of Sampson Coward, and Emma Wilders-Pratt and Tricia Gower of Parker Bullen, all in Salisbury.

The solicitors are trained in collaborative law, the process whereby separating and divorcing couples and their legal representatives work as a team, rather than as opponents, to resolve the couples' differences.

Mrs Frost, head of Whitehead Vizard's family department, said that the Salisbury group raised about £1,500 and a further £1,000 was collected by the Southampton and Bournemouth lawyers.

"It was good fun, but we were pretty exhausted by the end of it," she said. "Just before we started it was spitting with rain, but it held off for the ride.

"We had a few punctures and a bike chain fell off, but everyone finished.

"The fastest time was about two hours."

Mrs Frost said that a number of people stopped them to ask about collaborative family law as well as the NSPCC Big Bike Ride appeal.

Tuesday, June 19, 2021

Law as a Healing Profession

Marjorie Silver, a law professor at Touro Law Center in New York, has recently compiled and published a textbook for law students who want to practice law without losing their souls. It is titled:

The Affective Assistance
of Counsel: Practicing Law
as a Healing Profession

and you can read it in full text by going to this link:


Chapter Eight is my contribution, entitled "Collaborative Law: Practicing Without Armor, Practicing With Heart."

This book and the course Marjorie teaches at Touro, called "Lawyering As A Happy, Healthy, Healing and Ethical Profession", are part of a true sea change in the legal profession.

Other manifestations (google them if they sound interesting to you):

*therapeutic jurisprudence (in law schools and courts around the world)
*restorative justice
*comprehensive law
*law as a spiritual practice (courses and retreats popping up everywhere)
*the writings of David Hall, former Dean of Northeastern University Law School
*the journalism of Steven Keeva
*the teaching and writing of Susan Daicoff, Bruce Winick, David Wexler
*unbundling and the work of Woody (Forrest) Mosten
*a summer program at the Harvard Negotiation project called "The New Lawyer:Expanding Conceptions of Law Practice" with David Hoffman, David Hall & Susan Daicoff

This is an exciting time to be a lawyer, folks. Sandra Day O'Connor put it this way: “The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.” Even Warren Burger felt it when he proclaimed, "should lawyers not be healers?" And collaborative lawyers are at the crest of this wave.

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.