Inside the Minds: Understanding Collaborative Family Law


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Inside the Minds: Understanding Collaborative Family Law


Inside the Minds: Understanding Collaborative Family Law

Inside the Minds is a book series published by Aspatore for companies and law firms as a definitive look at particular areas of the law that impact decision making.  The series enables the corporate level executive, referred to as the C-level people of the organization, to get both an overview of a subject area and some in-depth knowledge from leading experts in the field.  This series gives you an opportunity to essentially interview the best minds on a topic from the comfort of your wing chair.

This edition which is focused on Collaborative Family Law has chapters by many recognized experts in the field and the topics range from practice development to the hands on details of helping clients through the process and working with interdisciplinary teams.  Practice development includes addressing the mental shift that is required to move from the experience of litigation to the experience of collaboration.  Terri Harrington is effusive about the life changing experience of this shift for the professional and she also clarifies the ethical dilemma that those considering this format can face.  Professionals and Executives unfamiliar with the collaborative practice will find clear explanations of the process and the rationale for this approach to family law.

Collaborative practitioners at all levels will find chapters that challenge and stimulate their thinking.  The initial article by Tindall and England is a thorough presentation of the evolution of a collaborative law practice with clear descriptions, personal observations and professional guidance for those interested in pursuing this approach.  The DeMeo article gives more detail about the prospective clients by assessing the client characteristics that lead to success.  Rachel L. Virk continues this line of thinking in her article by expanding on the comparison to litigation.

The shift from a litigator to a collaborator is not for every lawyer.  Collaboration requires a different set of emotional skills and literally shifts the brain from competitive thinking to cooperative thinking.  Not all litigators are able to make this shift and in this way, collaborative practice is more than a set of skills or a list of protocols.  The final chapter by one of the leading trainers and practitioners, Pauline H. Tesler, gives a detailed view of the trends, challenges and ethical issues inherent in the practice.  She highlights the full team model that uses lawyers, mental health professionals and neutral experts in financial and child development areas as the future model of dispute resolution for families.

The appendixes are extensive with samples of contracts, participation agreements, coaching agreements, protocols and step by step maps for various meetings.  Those new to the process will refer to this area often as they develop their skill in collaborative practice.  The appendixes consume a third of the book and may be worth the price alone.

One drawback to this book is the lack of an index which would allow you to find key topics more quickly and increase the use of this book as a reference.

Price: $ 90

Title:  Understanding Collaborative Family Law:  Leading Lawyers on Navigating the Collaborative Process, Working with Clients, and Analyzing the Latest Trends

Publisher: Thomson Reuters/Aspatore, 2011

ISBN:  978-0-314-27485-4

Language:  English


Regina A. DeMeo is a divorce attorney in the DC Area, where she had practiced for over a decade. She became a Collaborative professional in 2006, and is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professional’s Practice Group Development Subcommittee, for whom she presented recently at a national webinar. She is also the immediate past-President of Collaborative Divorce Association in MD. She is a published author and lectures for the DC Bar, Georgetown Law Center and GWU Law School on Collaborative Divorce, which she promotes greatly throughout the media.