Being a collaborative lawyer means constantly improving my skills through continuing education. Highly difficult clients challenge the boundaries and accountability required by the Collaborative process. These cases call for the effective intervention of a highly proficient professional team. Advanced Collaborative practitioners recognize these especially difficult cases as an opportunity to further deepen their skills and maximize the collective wisdom of the team.
In June, I completed the Advanced Mediation 3 course for lawyers. I also completed a course designed to help collaborative lawyers and mediators screen for family violence. In that course we learned when one spouse perceives a power imbalance, whether there actually is a power imbalance or not, mediation or collaborative practice will likely best meet that individual’s needs. This is because the court system is not sensitive to the emotional needs of any litigant. But a power imbalance in negotiation can be addressed through mediation and collaborative practice by providing a safe place for negotiation to take place. The reason the room is a safe place to negotiate is because:
- Each party has their own lawyer at their side;
- The lawyers have signed an agreement to never appear for that client in court against the other party, ever;
- Each lawyer is also a certified mediator, and the lawyers are using co-mediation skills while providing independent legal advice to their respective clients; and
- Mental health coaches are used when needed.
The best training for collaborative professionals is the annual Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. At the annual Forum, participants attend a myriad of seminars and network with other Collaborative professionals from around the world. I look forward to attending my 9th IACP Forum this year.