Reflections from an Intern by Martha C. McLarney

by Guest Blogger May 20, 2016

Privileged, awed, inspired, encouraged, validated, motivated, and frustrated were all feelings I had during my experience as a law student intern, with the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, more specifically the Access to Collaboration Task Force. I felt privileged because I was allowed this opportunity to be privy to the conversations of Collaborative professionals who perform as I aspire to, and who were not there for the purpose of teaching me anything, but rather to get something done. I felt awed because of the breadth of the IACP organization, the logistics required to be able to function as one body, and the coordination and effort it took by individuals to accomplish this. I felt inspired by the knowledge that individuals working together created IACP and have accomplished so much thus far. I also felt inspired by the Task Force Chairperson’s vision, knowledge, and motivation, and many of the Members’ motivation as shown by their presence at each phone-bridge and their willingness to volunteer for tasks. I felt encouraged because my involvement helped me realize that there are professionals from cultures, backgrounds, and countries very different from mine, yet they have many of the same priorities as I do, such as the importance of healthy family relationships, and I felt encouraged that they had found ways to further those priorities, and connect with each other.

I felt validated because there exists such a large international community of established professionals many of whom are attorneys, who seem to attach the same high value to the impact of healthy relationships that I do. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and have worked with children and families for years, and thus have viewed my legal education through a lens of mental health perspective. Inevitably I view the processes and the outcomes related to legal disputes, as they relate to the impact on the relationships of not only the parties involved in the dispute, but also the people who are not parties such as children, and the impact on their relationships and mental health. I have realized that healthy relationships and mental wellness as an outcome in a legal dispute have a higher value for me, than significant monetary benefit, if the cost would be continued adversity. However, this is at odds with most of what is offered in a legal education, because the focus in school is to learn the knowledge and practice the skills that will help students become proficient and successful attorneys, which in our society means proficiency and success in the processes and procedures for an adversarial system based on litigation. As a result, I found myself struggling to reconcile my beliefs with my education. My involvement with IACP provided me with very valuable validation, because I realized that there are many established attorneys all over the world, who also seem to attach a high value to relationships in a legal dispute, and who strive for changes in legal systems with that as the focus. I feel validated in my beliefs, and I am no longer struggling to reconcile them with my education.

I felt motivated by IACP’s Access To Collaboration Grant Program when I read the grant applications, because they made me realize that people from many parts of the world were trying to figure out how they could bring Collaboration to the legal system they labored under, or how they could extend Collaboration programs so that a greater number of people could benefit. I felt motivated because there are so many professionals who see changes for Collaboration as: 1) necessary, as shown by the fact that many planned to go forward whether they were awarded grant monies or not; 2) worthy, as shown by many through the devotion of their time and effort in generating specific plans and applying for an IACP Access To Collaboration Grant; and 3) within their power, as shown by the creative ways many applicants planned to use existing resources to fashion plans that would be supplemented by an IACP Grant Award. I also felt motivated and inspired by the ideas that applicants presented, which provided more food for my thought.

However, I also felt frustrated at times, such as when none of the members voiced their thoughts after being asked to do so, and I had a thought I wanted to voice but could not. I will concede that those members’ silences may have been the wisdom of experienced professionals, and that my frustration may have been the eagerness of a student… Either way I am thankful that the very seasoned attorney I interned with always spent time with me after a phone-bridge meeting, and patiently answered my questions and interestedly listened to me voice my thoughts.

I very much appreciate that I had the opportunity to be involved in IACP as a student because it offered me a different perspective while still in a formative stage, and it gave me a very real and experiential sense that we all really do live under the same sun.

Comments (2) -

kevin@scudderlaw.net
kevin@scudderlaw.net
6/14/2016 9:57:11 AM #

Martha, thank you for sharing your experience of being an intern with the IACP Access to Collaboration Task Force.  As a member and supporter of IACP I often wonder what the perspective of someone who is not a member would be, because I see part of my work as a Collaborative Practitioner as explaining our work to family, work-associates, Judges, mental health practitioners and others.  I try to do that justice.

All of your descriptors: "Privileged, awed, inspired, encouraged, validated, motivated, and frustrated", ring true for me as well.  

It is not easy work that we do.  The search for peace in the face of conflict.  Facing our personal challenges that impact our work as Collaborative Practitioners.  Running into the challenges of others, clients and professionals, that create bumps along the Collaborative path.  Surprised and heartened by the results that come of our work.  The satisfaction that comes with a job well done.

And the frustration when things do not work out quite that well, or quite the way you envisioned when you started.

I am glad that you had a mentor to talk with you during your work.  I am currently mentoring an attorney on a case and, for her, I think it provides her a chance to vent and process and question.  For me, it allows me to see the Collaborative process anew, through her eyes.

That is the central gift I take from your post: Seeing IACP anew through your eyes.

Thank you!

Kevin

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

kevin@scudderlaw.net
kevin@scudderlaw.net
6/14/2016 9:57:34 AM #

Martha, thank you for sharing your experience of being an intern with the IACP Access to Collaboration Task Force.  As a member and supporter of IACP I often wonder what the perspective of someone who is not a member would be, because I see part of my work as a Collaborative Practitioner as explaining our work to family, work-associates, Judges, mental health practitioners and others.  I try to do that justice.

All of your descriptors: "Privileged, awed, inspired, encouraged, validated, motivated, and frustrated", ring true for me as well.  

It is not easy work that we do.  The search for peace in the face of conflict.  Facing our personal challenges that impact our work as Collaborative Practitioners.  Running into the challenges of others, clients and professionals, that create bumps along the Collaborative path.  Surprised and heartened by the results that come of our work.  The satisfaction that comes with a job well done.

And the frustration when things do not work out quite that well, or quite the way you envisioned when you started.

I am glad that you had a mentor to talk with you during your work.  I am currently mentoring an attorney on a case and, for her, I think it provides her a chance to vent and process and question.  For me, it allows me to see the Collaborative process anew, through her eyes.

That is the central gift I take from your post: Seeing IACP anew through your eyes.

Thank you!

Kevin

View my profile on www.collaborativepractice.com

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