Talking with…. Woody Mosten

Woody and carl Michael talk about Collaborative Practice as a Consumer Service Product, the value of client involvement in designing the support they need from the CP process, the role, if any, sharing personal details and ‘war stories’ by the professionals and more…..
We’ll touch on even more topics as he and I continue our conversation.  Please add your comments and questions and we’ll try to integrate them into a future chat.

“Talking with…” is an ongoing set of videotaped discussions between carl Michael rossi and others who train, practice and/or have an interest in Collaborative Practice. If you know someone who you’d like to see in this series, send us a note at

Forrest “Woody” Mosten is a collaborative attorney (Certified Family Law Specialist) and mediator in Los Angeles who handles matters involving substantial assets and high conflict. He is a full time peacemaker and never goes to court on any case. He is in constant demand  as a keynote speaker for Collaborative Law  conferences (he was CP Cal’s 2011 Plenary Speaker) and trains Collaborative Practice Groups worldwide in creative convening and agreement building strategies, ethics, format design, current hot issues and future trends, and how to build a profitable peacemaking practice and most recently, has offered a Master Class for Collaborative Professionals nationwide with Pauline Tesler. He teaches Collaborative Law in law schools and is the ABA Chair on integrating Collaborative Law into law school curriculum.  His 40 Hr Basic Divorce Mediation Training sells out months in advance and is recommended by Collaborative Practice Groups.  Woody is the author of four books, Collaborative Divorce Handbook (2009),  Mediation Career Guide (2001), Unbundling Legal Services (2000), and Complete Guide to Mediation (1997) and numerous articles on Collaborative Law, Mediation, and Unbundling  Woody is the recipient of the ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver Award and Lifetime Award for Legal Access as the “Father of Unbundling and the Client Library, the Los Angeles County Bar Conflict Prevention Award,  was named Peacemaker of the Year by the Southern California Mediation Association and Collaborative Member of the Month by LACFLA. He is the Guest Editor of Family Court Review’s Special Issue on Collaborative Practice (April 2011) in which he authored an article on the future of Collaborative Practice.  Woody is a member of the faculty at UCLA School of Law,  and can be reached at


Feb04, 2012 Stephen G Anderson carl Michael, your discussion with Woody is absolutely fascinating and I will urge every member my practice groups to take the time to watch two vastly experienced ADR-confident professionals at the top of their professions. I don’t know what sort of brain I’ve got, but I do know that it’s slow. I often tell the story that when I’m watching a favourite comedy, such as Seinfeld, with my family, I tend to laugh half a second after everyone else. Yet I now consider myself to be a fairly early adopter – at least as far as lawyers are concerned! The beginning was the bit I didn’t get, I have to say. I believe that the reason I am the only lawyer in my local practice group who only has ADR clients is because I am confident with my ability to screen people into the most appropriate process. If they need litigation, or if it’s a process that can be delivered more appropriately by someone other than me, I make it clear my involvement should end at that consultation.And I’ve used the “doctors know best” analogy, so I got a bit lost with Woody’s take on it, which is why I’m going to need to listen again. Collaborative interdisciplinary practice is developing at a different pace and in a different way in the single jurisdiction of England & Wales to the way it is developing across the different jurisdictions of the United States. This is largely thanks to Resolution which is principally a lawyers membership association which requires its members to abide by an ethical code of practice. So despite our shared language our typical clients (as consumers) may be coming to us with different levels of education about the services available, and how they might access them. Nonetheless, this is the sort of discussion which I haven’t seen anywhere else, and thank MrcMr for putting in the time to share his curiosity in such a educative way.

Jan20 Karen Plax What a terrific opportunity to be able to listen to Woody and carl Michael! One particularly helpful aspect of this format (in addition to the obvious convenience of being able to start my day at home with a cup of tea and thoughtful discourse) is the theoretical-practical interweaving in the discussion. So many insights to respond to but one is about the “war story” versus “sharing an example” of what might be the consequences of a particular choice. It can be very helpful to a client to demonstrate some of the limitations or benefits of a course of conduct by sharing a story of another family’s experience having elected that path. Not by name of course and not to brag about a result in a wad storyish manner but to share an insight in a way that a client may be more open to receive. THANKS to you both for taking the time to share.

Jan19 admin Thanks for the comments and questions! I’ll be continuing to “Talk with….” Woody later today and will do my best to integrate your input into the dialogue. Hope you’ll check out the next installment to see how I did! In Joy! carl Michael rossi

Jan16 Kevin Scudder Interesting discussion to have in the background as I sit at my desk. Thank you for facilitating the discussion and for sharing it with the collaborative community. Several thoughts: The note from Stephen in Arkansas is a positive indication that collaborative practice is spreading. Even with his disappointment that there is a lack of acceptance and a dearth of cases, the fact is that there is a dialogue about collaborative practice. Given that there was nobody talking about collaborative practice there just a short time ago and now there is shows that it is growing. Last night I Skyped (a new word for the dictionary, I suppose) with my father in Omaha, Nebraska. He mentioned to me that the State Bar made reference to collaborative practice, this in a place where the Hoola Hoop and the Hacky Sack both took ten years after they became the “in thing” on the coasts to get to Omaha. Again, the fact that collaborative practice was mentioned is a sign of growth. Next is the issue of Collaborative being a client-driven process rather than a professional-driven process. While it is a challenge at times, I see my role as attorney in the collaborative practice to be to get “out of the way” of the client so he / she can create a resolution that reflects what he / she finds most important to him / her. While I accompany the client down the collaborative path and fill in information and support and other assistance as needed, I endeavor to step aside so that the client can shine forth. Delegating to other members of the collaborative team helps with this process. Just as I take my clients where they are, I need to accept myself for who I am. I am NOT a trained financial neutral. I am NOT a trained collaborative coach. The fact that I have those people available to me to help me serve the needs of the client is a blessing for me. On the issue of informed consent. My approach to this very essential issue is to first ask whether the potential client wants to delegate his / her decision making authority to a third party (arbitrator, Judge, Commissioner . . . ) or whether they want to keep the decision-making responsibilities. If the former, I refer the client out as I am not taking litigation cases. If the latter, I then start informing the client of all the different processes available to the client that leaves the decision-making process with him / her. So much more to say but time to move on to my next task. Keep up the collaborative dialogue with everyone you meet. I guarantee you will learn something about yourself and the other person each and every time you pause to talk.

Jan16 Stephen Northington I am a CFP professional who also has a Certified Divorce Fianancial Analyst designation. I’m amazed how far behind we are in Arkansas in our approach to how divorces are handled in our state. Woody mentions working in the old paradigm, I believe that is entirely the case here in my state. As a financial professional, I have been very disappointed in the lask of response I have received from my marketing efforts to your profession. We truly believe our firm can impact divorce settlements in a significant way. We are at total ease operating with a client first paradigm and open to a client centered approach. My wife and I do it every day in our financial planning firm, we call it financial comfort. I believe our firm is in a position to lead here in Arkansas and be a catalyst for change in how divorces are handled in our state. I believe the biggest impact we can have to promote change in our state is to educate the public about alternative dispute resolution. (Mediation & Collaborative) and the 3 aspects of Divorce: Legal,Mental,Financial so they feel empowered to make good decisons. In an interesting kind of way I believe this will be kind of like the ARAB SPRING were the people will change the system long before our attorney profession will or quicker anyway. I hope to be part of this and feel like our firm can. We belive social media will be a big part of this as we move forward. My question for you is what impacted your career that made your realize that traditional litigated divorce was not always the best way for your clients. And do you feel that educating the client is a solid foundation to impacting change in our state vs expecting attorneys to change on their own. Thank you! Stephen Northington, 501.993.0167