Thursday, July 1, 2021

NeuroCollaboration at the Collaborative Practice California annual Gathering

The Newsletter of California's statewide organization, "Collaborative Practice California" (Vol. 2010-2) arrived today with David Fink's summary of the recent "Celebration V," (the annual meeting held this year in San Francisco) as a featured article. The Celebration included a remarkable array of pre-conference institutes and conference plenary speakers,and David's article will give those of you who couldn't attend a vivid picture of who and what you missed.

Tom Lewis and I gave a plenary presentation of 90 minutes, focusing on a few key areas of emerging brain science with material drawn from our 18 hour course in NeuroCollaboration that we've been offering at the Straus Institute (Pepperdine Law School). Here's what David kindly had to say about our presentation:

Our focus on the brain continued Saturday morning with the opening plenary program presented by Collaborative pioneer Pauline Tesler and neuroscientist Dr. Thomas Lewis from UC San Francisco. Dr. Lewis gave a very brief overview of how our brains process information and how that impacts what we perceive through our senses. He highlighted the structure of the brain, and how different parts evolved and developed to handle different functions, and how this impacts emotional reactions and how (and when) we are able (and unable) to process information at a high intellectual level. Pauline Tesler was able to draw the connections between the science described by Dr. Lewis and the assumptions and expectations we make as we help clients through a Collaborative dispute resolution process. In particular, she noted that we often attempt to get “informed consent” to the Collaborative Process from our clients at a time when they are biologically unable to give it. In preparing for this presentation, Dr. Lewis and Ms. Tesler took a program they had previously developed and presented over 18 hours in 2 ½ days and tried to condense a portion of it into our 1 ½ hour program format. Everyone left this program wanting far more on the topic than the presenters could reasonably get through.

Re-examining through the lens of emerging understandings about the brain how we lawyers actually work with our clients (in contrast to how we like to think we are working with them) and how we can mobilize the triune brain to support rather than subvert collaborative conflict resolution is what I'm most engaged in thinking, writing, and teaching about. Co-training with a talented presenter and neuroscientist of Tom's intellectual caliber continues to be a delight and an education.

If you would like us to keep you posted about writings, trainings, and other developments in our work together on the neuroscience of conflict resolution, let me know at