I remember vividly my introduction to Collaborative Practice over twelve years ago. I was in a darkened room at the Bar Center watching a video replay of a continuing legal education course. A short segment of the course called “Collaborative Family Law” was showing on the screen.
I had been away from the practice of law for three years. Out of frustration with the seeming meaninglessness of a commercial litigation practice with a large regional law firm, I’d walked away after 10 years of representing banks and corporations in court. I’d kept my law license, and so I was fulfilling my continuing education requirements.
I remember the rising excitement I felt as the videotaped speakers described the way in which attorneys approach conflict resolution in the collaborative process. The nature of the collaborative process, and a non-adversarial model of negotiation, resonated so deeply with my own nature that I knew, almost instantly that I would spend the rest of my working career doing this work. After tracking down and meeting for lunch with one of the presenters, I decided to start my own law firm, resume the practice of law, and focus on building a collaborative practice.
Twelve years later I now have a partner in the firm who also devotes her law practice to the collaborative law process. I have a small group of collaborative colleagues with whom I work repeatedly in collaborative cases. We have built a reservoir of trust and love in our collaborative community of attorneys, psychologists, and a financial planner that we draw from when we occasionally find ourselves frustrated or triggered in a difficult case. But most days, I find myself completely and happily absorbed in work that is deeply satisfying, surrounded by colleagues whom I enjoy immensely, and gratified by helping individuals and families move through the traumatic and arduous transition of divorce without experiencing the waste and destruction of the litigation system that, as a former litigating attorney, I know all too well.