Who is an effective collaborative attorney?
An effective collaborative attorney is confident in her ability to practice law; she has an appropriate amount of experience in her practice area, in this case in the dissolution of marriages. As with any other practice method or area, it is crucial for your attorney to be skilled in and knowledgeable of the substantive law pertaining to the subject matter.
Your lawyer should also be well-versed in how to participate appropriately in the collaborative model. The best way for her to ensure this is to have attended at least one collaborative basic training and to have at least observed, if not participated actively in at least one collaborative divorce. She should also be an active member of a collaborative practice group.
An effective collaborative attorney understands the advantages of using the collaborative process. She understands that when spouses reach an agreement together, they are more likely to abide by it and to suffer less conflict down the road.
Your effective collaborative attorney is open-minded and settlement-driven, yet unwilling to force a settlement just to close the case. Your attorney listens to your concerns, hears them, understands them, and helps you reach an agreement that meets your most compelling interests.
She understands the difference between a position and an interest and knows to listen carefully and actively for underlying interests. Such an attorney will work hard to help the facilitator uncover the fundamental concerns at play in her client’s case, for both her client and her client’s spouse.
She is an active listener who also appreciates when to listen quietly while others express their feelings. A good collaborative lawyer understands that, in working to find a settlement that meets both participants’ interests, it’s important to listen to what those interests are, and to hear and understand them.
Such an attorney also demonstrates basic brainstorming, option-building, problem-solving, and consensus constructing skills for her client and his spouse.
She will work collaboratively with the rest of the team to model for and teach both parents the communication skills in which they will engage to avoid conflict in their post-divorce future.
She refrains from forcing her preconceived notions about what worked in other cases on the participants.
She allows other team members to shine and appreciates the different skills that each one brings to the table. This attorney understands the benefits of working with other professionals so that both clients receive the benefit of all of the professionals’ unique strengths.
Your effective collaborative attorney has worked successfully with other collaborative professionals on other teams. Many collaborative professionals have worked together before (given how small our communities are), which is another benefit because the professionals enjoy a camaraderie that will assuredly grease the wheels of peaceful negotiations in your divorce process. She is compassionate to every member of the team.
Your effective collaborative attorney is open to the process and appreciates that there is a better, less damaging way for couples to divorce than litigation.