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Be-Fulfilled | It's Not About Faith...

It's Not About Faith...

by Robert Harvie February 05, 2013

 

Collaboration: It's Not About Faith, It's About Hard Work:

I might take some heat for this post.  If so, fine.  I've never been one to smart too much from criticism.

I read a post today in the Wisconsin Law Journal written by lawyer Gregg Herman, who suggests that, in his experience, collaborative divorce is declining in popularity - offering some comments on why he feels that the process may be failing its clients.

I would encourage you to read it.

Not because I agree with everything he says, but I have noticed some of the same issues arising in my own locale - including the fabled city of Medicine Hat, Alberta where collaborative divorce for a time "cured" the need for litigation.

I think the process is maturing - and with that maturity comes the need to re-evaluate and examine, with a critical eye, the cracks that might need some mending.

Which is no easy task if you feel the process is a "religion".

Did I just say that?

Yes - I did.  And I'm echoing the comments made by Julie MacFarlane in her early study on collaborative divorce - who commented that some practitioners evidence a "quasi-evangelical quality to their embrace of CFL."

And this is not necessarily healthy.  Because when something becomes "faith based" it risks losing the ability of its adherents to honestly criticize and, through that critique, improve the process.

And I think the process could use some improvement, personally.

I think we could use some greater efficiency.

I fear many of us, and our clients, embrace collaborative work in somewhat mystical terms - believing that if we just wish for the best, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya long enough - an agreement will fall down from the heavens.

But it doesn't work that way.

Clients come to us in dysfunction.  They have years, sometimes decades, of life experience and pain and anger and left to their own devices they will allow these wounds to fester in the process.

So the process requires hard work.  It requires effort at assuring efficiency.  And that may, in some cases, require the threat of termination or actual termination - not as a lever against the other party, but as a reality check on our own clients who may not be showing the commitment required to make the process work.

There was a time where some suggested collaboration could actually SAVE MONEY.  Those who were around at the turn of the century remember this - of course we've disavowed ourselves of this myth now - and have, in fact, experienced the reality the process is often extremely expensive.  

I would encourage all of us to take a good look at our collaborative files and assure that we're all giving them the time and attention they require, and that, further, we are requiring ourselves and our clients to be productive and efficient in the process.  And if we or our clients are not doing that - we need to correct it - on our files specifically and in our practice generally.

Because the process holds too much promise to allow it to fail because no one was willing to speak up when the emperor was wearing no clothes.

I don't think, for a moment, the process is naked - but its slip just might be showing.

So, maybe it's time to roll up our sleeves.

Comments (6) -

joy@gojoy.us
joy@gojoy.usUnited States
2/12/2013 3:10:42 PM #

Some in the earlier days of mediation also "drank the Kool-Aid" consequently turning off many whose support and good opinions were wanted and needed. I recall sitting beside a justice of our Arizona Supreme Court as we presented on a panel to our sistern and brethren in the law. He remarked that some of these mediation types were  aggravating, narrow minded, dismissive of other processes and practitioners and he was sick of it. When it was my turn at the mike, I turedn to him and said, "I sure hope I'm not one of those." "You are not," he said strongly and the audience broke-up. My personal relief was tempered by hearing such a personage say before my colleagues what I knew to be true. However, time cures most ills. My point: folks eventually got the neutralizing antidote as we went along and agreed to open the tent flaps. Carry on.

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

swan@swanfamilylawyers.com.au
swan@swanfamilylawyers.com.auAustralia
2/12/2013 10:20:43 PM #

Wow; sure glad we don't drink Kool-Aid down under. I probably am a little evangelical about the Collaborative Process but hell I've been up the mountain and seen the light! I spent 25 years smashing up waht was left of peoples broken relationships before discovering interest based negotiation and now applying that for the last 5 years in the Collaborative Model. I continue with a small but slowly growing Collaborative community continue each day to see the benefits of being a peacemaker.
I am a believer in the process and whilst I leave it to my research friends to conduct the evidence based research I know my Collaborative clients reslove their issues with more success and less cost than my litigation clients.

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

rgh@huckvale.ca
rgh@huckvale.caCanada
2/20/2013 7:06:17 AM #

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Joy and Chris..  which, more or less, is exactly my point.  To create honest conversation about what works, what doesn't work, what troubles, what encourages.. something beyond simple gushing evangelical support.

And I'm a great "believer" in my own way.  I'm a former President of my provincial group, I spend time contributing to this blog, to a Canadian blog, and am now a member of my Provincial Law Society, heavily involved in examining potential to improve access to justice, specifically including "limited scope retainer" efforts, of which Collaborative law is perhaps, the clearest example.

My biggest current concern, however, is the potential for the "never-ending" discussion which, I fear, has the potential to provide greater benefits to lawyers, coaches and financial professionals - than their clients.  

I would be very interested to hear from any practitioners who have encountered that problem or that criticism - and to obtain their thoughts and ideas on how that might be best addressed.

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

cat@catjzavis.com
cat@catjzavis.comUnited States
3/7/2013 10:58:04 AM #

These are great questions Robert.  When working with clients I provide clients with information about all the possible options and explore with them what best serves their needs and I am very cognizant of the financial costs of the process.  

I work really hard to find a balance between engaging in ongoing processes and conversations in the process with the need to have a process that has an end and is efficient.  Sometimes I do that by raising the conflicting needs - it sounds like you have a need to be heard on this, can you help us understand if there is something we are missing that can help you move forward?  I'm asking because I have also heard you say you want this process to be efficient and I'm concerned that continued dialogue has a diminishing in return in that regard.  I'd love to hear what you think about this.  

Or something like that.  When I bring this conflict to light, it usually helps clients hone in on what is really important to them.  I also tell clients that sometimes they will never be heard the way they want from the spouse and that they need to simply grieve that and find other ways to be heard.

~ cat

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

sah@h-hlaw.com
sah@h-hlaw.comUnited States
3/7/2013 10:58:07 AM #

I don't agree with Gregg's comments about our state process or organization, but recognize we come from different perspectives and experiences.  I agree with the postings that collaborative practice requires hard work and that it is a clear form of limited scope engagement.  As with mediation, CP requires ongoing learning, skill-refining and self-reflection by practitioners to be competent and effective in the process.  Part of that learning is asking and listening to clients.  I send an evaluation to clients and also meet (no charge) with each at the conclusion of their case.  I want to know their input (what worked, what they would change, cost/value) about the process and professionals, including me.  Constructive criticism provides an opportunity to learn and improve--much more valuable than zealotry.  While client input is vital, the importance of critical dialogue also applies to practitioners being willing to have difficult conversations when team members, including ourselves, are part of the problem or an impediment to the ongoing work we should be doing to improve the quality of the process for families.

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

adam@cordoverlaw.com
adam@cordoverlaw.com
7/29/2013 12:12:42 PM #

I have noticed that when the professionals' fees are brought up in full team meetings on a semi-regular basis as an agenda item, the parties tend to settle more quickly and incur fewer costs.  This technique keeps the clients fully informed of the expense and motivated to come to an agreement.

-Adam B. Cordover

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

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The Bigger Conversation

Be a part of the conversation! Learn about the latest thoughts, trends and developments in Collaborative Practice from IACP’s Brain Trust, and then join the discussion with other members across the globe. This is your opportunity to be heard; share your experience, knowledge and insights with the rest of us. We’ll all benefit.

Our Featured Bloggers will rotate over time. If you are interested in becoming a Featured Blogger and posting regularly, please contact us at info@be-fulfilled.org. We also welcome periodic submissions from Guest Bloggers. If you have a post to share as a guest, please send your post to us at info@be-fulfilled.org.

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