It’s no good talking the talk if you won’t walk the walk

There’s an awful lot of talk in family law circles about ADR. Alternative dispute resolution. Mediation. Collaboration. On any analysis, there are hundreds, even thousands of experienced collaboratively trained lawyers and mediators, discussing these processes in their professional groups, on social networking sites and blogs. The usual thread is looking for help as to how one can get more ADR clients through the door

And yet there are thousands of couples out there who are walking through lawyers’ doors every year, and who are looking for better outcomes for themselves and their children. Despite this, and the apparent willingness of many family lawyers to work in a different way, most couples are still gorging on a diet of “constructive” negotiations at best and adversarial court combat at worst. Why?

I can’t say that I’ve got the answer, but I do know that for the past 5-6 years since I trained in collaborative practice and mediation I do not need more than one hand to count the number of my clients cases which have involved the courts (other than to approve an agreement reached). I think I have achieved this my making two changes to the way I worked.

The first was by abandoning my traditional lawyers’ training and embracing instead the benefits of the interest-based approach. The second was by realising that divorce for most couples isn’t much of a legal problem, but is usually a huge financial and emotional problem and since I know little about these, I make sure I work alongside family consultants and financial planners who do.

I’ve been invited to deliver a seminar/workshop at this year’s Resolution ADR conference in September along these lines. I hope I’ll find a bit more to say by then, or I’ll all be watching the tumbleweed blow through the seminar room.


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