Monday, June 22, 2021

"Neurocollaboration" Course a Hit at Straus Institute (Pepperdine Law School) Summer Skills Program

Tom Lewis, M.D. and I presented a three-day course in the neuroscience of collaborative conflict resolution earlier this month in Malibu at the Straus Institute Summer Skills Program, to a group of students that was equally balanced between collaborative family lawyers, and students who had no direct involvement at all in family conflict resolution.

The course was very well received by our students, who at times were so engrossed in the intense debates sparked by the material that they--and we--forgot to take scheduled breaks. Several told us it was the most fascinating continuing education course they'd ever taken. There was buzz about the Neurocollaboration course in the hallways and during the breaks. Tom and I were gratified by the positive response from not only students in our own course, but students and faculty involved in other courses running at the same time as ours.

Many people approached Tom and me to ask whether the course would be offered again in October at the fall session of the skills program in Woodstock, Vermont.

The answer is, "yes." For more information, or to enroll, go to this link:

Collaborative Divorce to be included in Law School Clinical Program

U.Va. Law School To Offer Family Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic

Starting this fall, the University of Virginia School of Law will offer a clinic designed to help low-income families resolve legal issues through mediation or other options outside of a courtroom.The yearlong Family Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic will focus primarily on custody, divorce, visitation and support issues.

The clinic will partner with the Mediation Center of Charlottesville, which takes court-referred cases from the juvenile, domestic relations and circuit courts.Students in the clinic will co-mediate with the Mediation Center’s experienced and certified family mediators, he said.
The clinic will also work with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society to accept referrals for collaborative law cases, in which clients retain their own lawyer, but in a less-adversarial setting than a typical family law case adjudicated in court. Clinic instructor Kimberly Emery, assistant dean for pro bono and public interest, recently designed training for local family law attorneys so they could assist in such cases free of charge.

Family Law In addition to a seminar in the fall that trains students to handle such cases, up to eight students selected for the clinic will receive 20 hours of mediation skills training through a program approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia, plus six hours of academic credit.

“All year long, students are going to be given opportunities to observe mediations and collaborative practice cases, and to actually participate in those,” Balnave said.“Even for students who are not planning to go on to family law, they’ve learned the skills,” Emery added. “They’ve also seen how one type of alternative dispute resolution may be better than another.”Balnave said by the end of the course students will be able to compare options for families in litigation, collaborative law and mediation settings.

“We’re going to have people who really want to have an amicable dissolution of the relationship and that’s going to be really satisfying for our students to work on — Family Law to help people through that difficult time,” he said.

With the new clinic, the Law School now offers 19 clinical courses. The family law clinic began last fall as a pro bono pilot project funded by a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.“The family law pro bono cases are the most difficult to place,” Emery said. “The need for family law representation is extreme.”

Thursday, June 4, 2021

Collaborative Divorce Practice in Israel

There are now at least 80 trained collaborative divorce professionals in Israel, who attended one of the two introductory three-day trainings presented last month by me and Yuval Berger in Tel Aviv.

The events were co-sponsored by the United States Embassy, The Israeli Bar Association, and the Israeli Ministry of Justice, and were preceded by introductory evening presentations in Haifa and Tel Aviv attended by perhaps 200 lawyers, mediators, therapists, and social workers.

The courses were both oversubscribed, and there is a waiting list for another round of basic trainings. Participants left these events obviously energized and ready to do the work of building a uniquely Israeli collaborative practice movement.

They face some unique challenges--for example, the existence of two parallel, separate systems for granting divorces--one civil, and the other religious--which apply entirely different substantive and procedural law. But like collaborative lawyers everywhere, our colleagues in Israel have begun the work of figuring out solutions.

"Neurocollaboration" course starts next week!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Again this year I’ve been invited to teach in the Straus Institute Dispute Resolution Skills Training Program in Malibu, CA (June) and Woodstock, VT (October). As many of you know, the course I’m offering this year is called “Neurocollaboration.” My co-trainer will be Tom Lewis, M.D., a psychiatrist and clinical faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, who has a special interest in the evolutionary biology and neurochemistry of human emotion and behavior.

Tom and I are putting the finishing touches on an 18-hour intensive course (two and a half days) that will teach collaborative lawyers to understand how the human brain actually operates with respect to social and “ultra-social” emotions and behaviors during family breakdown and restructuring. Tom brings to this course a profound understanding of the neuroscience of human behavior and a dynamic, highly engaging teaching style. You may have read an elegant book for general readers that he and two psychiatrist colleagues wrote several years ago about the meaning and purpose of love in the evolution of the human species, called A General Theory of Love. Tom has previously taught much of the material which we are integrating into this Neurocollaboration course in a program he presented at Google University, the educational arm of Google operated on their campus here in the Bay Area, as well as to University of California physicians and medical students, for the very practical purpose of helping participants ground their work with patients, clients, and customers in a more accurate paradigm for how and why the human brain causes people to behave as they do.

For this Straus Institute course, Tom and I are organizing this emerging understanding of how our brains actually function, into the four-part “paradigm shift” matrix that you will be familiar with if you have ever attended one of my introductory two day collaborative trainings, or have read my A.B.A. book, Collaborative Law: Who Am I? Who Is My Client? What Is The Task? How Do I Do the Task?

Participants in this course can expect to learn not only new understandings of why we and our clients behave as we do during conflict and conflict resolution, but also ways of implementing these perspectives from the neurosciences to make our collaborative conflict resolution work more effective and satisfying to ourselves and our clients. The course will include multimedia presentations and interactive exercises and discussions, and given what I have seen of Tom’s previous teaching on related subjects, I expect the Neurocollaboration course to be not only challenging and practical, but also quite entertaining.

This course will provide 18 hours of California Mandatory Continuing Legal Education credit for lawyers; many states recognize for their own CLE purposes courses that are accredited by the State Bar of Calfornia. California State Bar Certified Family Law Specialists can earn 18 CFLS credits for attendance at this course, all of which qualify in the category of “psychological and counseling aspects of family law.” I would expect that collaborative coaches and child specialists might individually be able to obtain continuing education credits from their own professional associations; we can provide a course syllabus and proof of attendance.

While the course will focus specifically on applying understandings from the neurosciences in collaborative family law practice, it would be of potential interest to any conflict resolution professional working in the area of divorce. To keep the courses in this program highly interactive and “hands-on,” enrollment is strictly limited by the Straus Institute to a maximum of 25 to 30 participants, and to the extent possible, preference will be given to collaborative practitioners if the course is oversubscribed.

I’d be delighted to see this first-ever Neurocollaboration course fully booked by collaborative practitioners, as I am convinced this is the new frontier for taking our collaborative conflict resolution work to the next level. It would be great to see friends and colleagues in attendance. There are still some spaces available for the Malibu course, which takes place June 11-13. The Pepperdine University Law School campus, where the Straus Institute is located, is set in perhaps the most beautiful location of any law school in North America, on a coastal hillside overlooking the beaches of Malibu. Malibu is only about a 45 minute drive north along the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles International Airport. Brad Pitt sightings at local restaurants have been reported.

For further information, or to enroll, you can contact Straus Institute administrator Lori Rushford, or look at course information and enrollment forms online [click on the title of this post, above, or use the url shown below]:

Lori Rushford

Professional Education Program Administrator

Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution

Pepperdine School of Law

24255 Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, CA 90263

((310) 506-6342

Fax: (310) 506-4437