IACP Forum: Should I Stay or Should I Go?


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IACP Forum: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

IACP Forum: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The “Forum” refers to the Networking and Educational Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, one of their annual events.  Its 13th occurrence is October, 2012.  We add these comments because we believe that engaging in Collaborative Practice not only involves doing different things, but involves altering the very way that a professional sees him/her self and his/her relationship to clients, colleagues and the task at hand.  We believe, having been there, that few if any other professional ‘conferences’ spawn this type of dialogue and involvement.  If you are or might want to become a Collaborative Practice professional, consider attending.

http://www.collaborativepractice.com/_t.asp?M=8&MS=4&T=Forum.  From the Editors.



A friend and I had lunch last week, after which he emailed me a question of whether I thought his going to the Forum would be “of value” to him. I thought it to be a great question and while the decision to go to the Forum is one that has to be made on an individual basis, I thought I would provide some Answers that reflect my analysis and which may (or may not) be helpful to those still considering whether or not to attend.

One: Consider the cost. Can you afford it? If not, do not go.
If yes, go to answer Two.

Two: What is your intention for going?

If your expectation is to get referrals, don’t go as it is
likely your expectations will not be met.

If your expectation is to learn, consider answer One:
Is it possible for you to learn closer to home at less
If you are a book learner, can you learn what you need from
a book or videos and you do not like the personal
interactions that occur at the Forum? If yes, then consider
the cost factor.

If you are a type who attends trainings and are content to
let other people ask questions and do the role plays, see
Answer One and consider the cost of traveling to Chicago
to sit and observe other people.

If you are a type who learns by asking questions, taking
parts in role plays, having conversations in corridors,
buses and bathrooms, and generally being prepared for
anything that happens and for anyone you meet, then see
answer Three.

Three: Go to the Forum. It has tremendous value.

See you all there!!

 Kevin Scudder  http://scudderlaw.net/


With no disrespect, I come at this question a little differently.  I certainly understand the realities of finance.  I’ve been to every Forum since 2002 in Galveston.  And I could easily say that I couldn’t ‘afford’ any of them.  And so, financially, I do things to make it affordable.  I shop airfares.  I look to see if I can share a room.  I look for lower costs at nearby hotels.  I DO encourage staying at the host hotel; it really does add to the value of the experience.  But IF it makes the difference between you being able to attend at all or not, at least consider options.

Beyond the money question.  I’m not quite in alignment with Kevin’s flow chart approach.  For me as ‘solid’ as the chart is, it really keeps coming back only to the amount of money to be spent.  And the only other questions are about your particular ‘style’ of learning.  That’s where I diverge.  I don’t think the style of learning really is an issue.

ALL of us ultimately learn in ONLY ONE way.  That is, from each other.  While we casually refer to “the Forum”, there is a reason why it has always been officially the ” Networking and Educational Forum “.  Networking is NOT only about getting referrals.  It is in fact at the heart of how we learn at the Forum.  From each other, cross pollinating, checking out other perspectives, asking questions that might even be awkward to ask in our own ‘clusters’…..   The Forum is not a CE program designed to meet your requirements just under the wire; if you’re coming just for CE units…, well.  You may, and likely will, pick up a few tips maybe even some techniques.  [Although I have actually encountered people who express an open disdain for ‘how others do things’.  I do hope such folks would stay away, not only from the Forum but from Collaborative Practice.]

But MOSTLY in my view  the Forum, the Networking and Educational Forum, is about the ever-continuing Paradigm Shift.  You may have a favored ‘style’ for learning facts, forms, details.  If you want to be able to pass some quiz on ‘what is CP?’ or ‘involving MHPs’ or ‘growing your Collaborative caseload’, then you have lots of ‘learning’ options…..books, videos, whatever is your own ‘best style’

But you have only one way of continuing your Paradigm Shift, of becoming a good and maybe even better Collaborative Practitioner.  And that is by rubbing elbows with, by exposing yourself to, by interacting in real time with new ideas and new people.

We are a grand community and the Forum is our best opportunity to grow as such.  Like Kevin, I hope that you will decide to go to the Forum.  But because you want to grow…..not just learn.

In case you lost it, here’s the link:



carl Michael rossi, M.A. J.D., L.P.C.


No disrespect taken, mCr.  Your comment is in alignment with my thinking, if not my short post.

I agree the Forum is about growth, both individually and as a Collaborative Community.

For me that growth comes through dialogue, both internal and external, and the IACP should be thanked for putting on the Forum to facilitate the dialogue between Collaborative Practitioners from around the world.

I also agree with your comment about finding “a way” to afford going to the Forum instead of using finances as a reason not to go.

Last year’s Forum in San Francisco was my first.  After doing the basic collaborative training in 2008 I used, in part, the “can’t afford it” model to miss the 2008 New Orleans, 2009 Minneapolis, and 2010 Washington DC Forums.  Another part of my reason for not going was not having made and maintained the Paradigm Shift in a way that made me believe that going to a Forum provided “value” to me when considering cost and family factors.

I will say that I was “ready” for the San Francisco Forum.  I formed an intention on what I wanted to work on in my Collaborative Practice, which included learning more about narrative mediation on both the client and Professional Team levels.  I also formed an intention of dialoguing with as many other practitioners as possible to learn what other individuals and communities were doing.

I grew immeasurably as a person and as  a Collaborative Practitioner at the San Francisco Forum.

Perhaps I was trying to communicate in my post that value can be had from the Forum if one is “ready”, as I was when I went to San Francisco.  Ready financially (even if it is pushing the budget a bit).  Ready for dialogue.  Ready to be open to growth, rather than having the expectation for growth.  Ready to ask questions.  Ready to listen. Ready to explore.  Ready to think outside the box.  Ready to push the envelope.

I am interested to hear the experiences of others who have attended past Forums, whether they were ready or not.

In any event, I am going to Chicago.  Would not miss it for the world this year.

 Kevin R. Scudder  http://www.scudderlaw.net/


Interesting conversation, Kevin and carlMichael.  I’m appreciating what you both have to say, and as an old timer I’ll add my voice.

I’ve been at every Forum since 1999 (I’m not sure if we are counting that one or not), except for San Diego, because of illness.  What I take back home is different every time and not what I would have expected, if expectations were at the center of my decision making process.  I go because it’s the gathering of the tribe, which grows bigger and more diverse every year, and because it is bar none the best conference/gathering/convention/CLE event that any of us ever get to attend. Every  time.  Even the least successful Forum is more interesting and fun than its nearest competitor (if competition were what it’s about).

Add to that the people you meet and the unexpected ideas you encounter, and I simply never want to miss it.

I can’t really wrap my mind around Forum-readiness as a concept, Kevin, though I think I understand the  personal  point you are making.  The Forum offers workshops for every level of present engagement with CP, from people who are still in law school and have yet to form a paradigm, to people who were founders and have been around longer than rocks.  What it seems to do for just about everyone is knock their socks off the first time, and then continue to expand thinking and growth thereafter.  If you come with a personal agenda, as Kevin did, it probably will be met.  If you come agenda-less with curiosity and open-mindedness, even better.  I don’t believe any of us can plan ahead what our learning curve is going to be in CP because, as carlMichael points out, this is not about content but about personal engagement with changing preconceptions about our work and discovering how much there is to learn.

From your posts, Kevin, I’d say that’s what you found, whatever the agenda that brought you to your first  Forum

 Best, Pauline H. Tesler www.lawtsf.com; http://commonweal.org/programs/ili.html


Can’t resist.

“least successful Forum”….In Math they call that the null set, no?



carl Michael rossi, M.A. J.D., L.P.C.



This is such a great conversation thread … I’ll have to say, I’ve attended Forums every year since Vancouver (2005, I think?) and have come to realize that, indeed, there is a vast difference between attending a Forum with “readiness” vs. “with expectations”.


My sense is that there are many who attend the Forum with a strong sense of expectation.  I have found this to be true in reading through both workshop and conference evaluations.  My own mindset around attending the Forum has evolved to what it means to be “ready for the unexpected”.  At the risk of sounding a little cliche, I believe that when you are open and flexible to the possibilities of whatever might come your way, this is where the real magic in connected learning and experience happens-and I believe I have experienced this magic at every Forum I’ve attended.  After all, where else could you attend a conference with so many smart, engaging people of diverse professional backgrounds who share common purpose?


I hope Forum attendance in Chicago is over the top – I look forward to re-connecting with many folks I’ve come to know over the years and hope to find new connections as well.

  Gaylene Stingl  SVA Certified Public Accountants, S.C.

Your comments do remind me of a downside of attendance at the Forum.  I now have so many good friends scattered across the country, continent and globe that my ‘separation’ issues could be on constant trigger …. if I let them.
A small price to pay, in my mind.  But for those who don’t like the idea of making friends and then doing the work to stay connected, well the Forum might not be such a good idea…….



carl Michael rossi, M.A. J.D., L.P.C.



On that I would suggest the benefits far outweigh the harm!!

I am hopeful that anyone who has been to a past Forum has found the same energizing experience as I and for those that have not yet joined their collaborative colleagues from around the world, that they will give serious consideration to making Chicago in October a destination.

It is a wonderful opportunity to have your collaborative batteries charged and not only bask in the opportunity to meet 700 (or more) professionals who share the same vision and professional pursuits as you do, but to enjoy the educational offerings and the fun!!

I hope to reconnect with old friends and meet many new ones in just a few months!  October will be here in the blink of an eye!!


  Ross M. Evans, Esq.


It certainly hasn’t stopped me.
And I go each year and meet more folks who break my heart open very wide and spread me connections very far.
And even when it all ‘aches’, on Sunday evening or a month later, or 8 months later…..  I smile and I kvell.



carl Michael rossi, M.A. J.D., L.P.C.

Sorry to say,  I will not be attending the forum this year.  I have a family wedding in San Francisco.  So, to all those I love to see each year, I say “hello” and enjoy.


 Maria Alba-Fisch

My $.02 worth…

I have attended every forum since Vancouver (with the exception of Toronto).

During each and every forum, my own personal experience is that I have found two truths:

a) I will be disappointed in at least one forum and find that my time may have been better used sight-seeing or reading a good book;

b) The disappointment in (a) above will be more than offset by the value of:

i) Connecting with fellow Collaborative practitioners in my own jurisdiction on a personal level that the hectic nature of practice does not allow on a regular basis;
ii) Connecting with fellow Collaborative practitioners from other diverse areas, far beyond my own jurisdiction, and finding out, first hand that, firstly, the problems and challenges I face are common to practitioners all over the world, and, as such, gives me faith that I’m not completely incompetent, and, secondly, when discussing those problems, I often find other ways of approaching them from other jurisdictions that haven’t been part of the brainstorming in my own neck of the woods;
iii) I will attend at least one forum which will provide me with ONE LASTING BUILDING BLOCK to add to my skill set, making me a better collaborative practitioner and better lawyer generally;

With regard to the comment regarding the choice of reading a book or watching a video, with respect, I think it’s highly unlikely that any of us will take three of four days out of our lives where all we do is have time to discuss and think about what we do and how we do it. The ability to get away from the office, from phones, from the distractions inherent in our own lives is something that the forum allows us – to borrow from Stephen Covey, we need to “sharpen our saw” every now and again, as, in the long run, if we allow our tools to dull, we lose much more than the cost, direct and indirect, of getting away for a few days.

I might also add that, well, life is short.

And taking an opportunity once a year to get outside of your typical life experience is a great addition to a life well-lived. Beyond what I learned in New Orleans, the experience of taking a day to clean up and plant some trees and shrubs post-Katrina provided me something of value that I’ll carry with me for life. Standing in the National Mall with a two hundred thousand smiling faces or more listening to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” was another memory of a lifetime. And then there was sitting in a Boston bar with a fellow collaborative lawyer and three hard-core Red Socks fans when Boston won game 1 of the world series. Running on the sea wall in San Diego… you get the idea.



Take a chance.

Have a deep dish pizza, watch a Blackhawk Game. Stay till Tuesday and go watch the Bears Monday night..

 Robert G. Harvie, Q.C.


As you might imagine, I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation about the Forum…I have been very interested in hearing what makes you want to come. Now I just can’t resist sharing with you a story that I became aware of only this afternoon…

Several months ago, an IACP member put me in touch with Suzy Eckstein, another IACP member from Maryland who has been working on a Collaborative Practice pro-bono project. I invited Suzy to write an article about her work so that we could publish it in the Collaborative Connection e-newsletter. This afternoon, I received Suzy’s article which will be published in its entirety on Thursday. But for now, let me just share with you the first sentence:

In October 2011 the Municipality of Ramat Gan, Israel, presented a Program at the IACP Forum, “Collaborative Divorce in the Public Sector- The Ramat Gan Israel Model”, which provided guidance to a budding group of Maryland practitioners.

So, here’s the back story. The founder of the Ramat Gan Collaborative Divorce Center is an IACP member named Idith Schaham. Idith attended the IACP Forum in Washington, DC during which she sought me out in order to share with me the opening of the CD Center in Israel. A few months later, I had the privilege of visiting the Ramat Gan Center myself and meeting the many dedicated Collaborative practitioners there. As a result of that visit, Idith and cofounder Rachel Vladomirsky were invited to share their experience in creating the Ramat Gan Model at the San Francisco Forum. The “budding group of Maryland practitioners” (which includes Barbara Burr, Erin Carter, Sara Scott, Karen Freed, Andrea Hirsch, Kate Scharff , Suzy Eckstein and I am sure many others!) embraced the guidance which was shared at the Forum and are now providing access to Collaborative Practice services to families of modest means in Maryland.

Interesting that this article should have arrived today, while we are discussing the many reasons to attend the Forum… From my perspective, facilitating these connections between practitioners from around the world is why we hold the Forum and actually, boiled down to its essence, is the reason IACP exists. BTW, I LOVE these sorts of stories! If you’ve got one of your own, please share!

 Warm regards, Talia L. Katz, JD Executive Director, IACP   www.collaborativepractice.com




Editors’ note:  The World of Collaborative Practice magazine is an independent publication with no official affiliation with the IACP.  It’s publishers /editors are proud members of the IACP.

    Nearly a thousand professionals from around the world engage in active discussion about their work in Collaborative Practice.  From time to time, as particular discussions take place, The World of Collaborative Practice will publish those discussions.  The comments and opinions are only those of the named participants and are published here with their express permission.  While links to this discussion are always welcome, republication of the discussion requires express permission of TWoCP and the writers.  No individual comment may be quoted without the entire conversation without express permission of the individual writer(s).  Interested professionals may join ‘the listServe’ by following the steps outlined here.  [It’s free!]