Saturday, January 30, 2010

Get a Second Opinion on Using Collaborative Law if....

Choosing the right attorney is a critical step in using Collaborative Law to help you resolve a family law issue. In any kind of legal matter, you have to carefully select your legal advisor and advocate, but with Collaborative Law, extra care is necessary. Collaborative Law attorneys receive additional training so they can learn new skills and a new mental approach to handling cases. We call it a "paradigm shift". We realize that Collaborative Law requires a different orientation by the lawyer. It's not just a question of whether we can negotiate effectively. Our whole approach to a case is radically different and lawyers who haven't been to at least a 2-day basic training in Collaborative Law don't have a clue about what we are really doing or how we approach cases differently.

Unfortunately, some lawyers who are not trained will claim to be Collaborative lawyers. Some do it because they are genuinely interested in the process and have been persuaded of its value by things they have read or heard. Others, however, claim to be Collaborative and then work hard to talk any potential client out of using Collaborative Law. Sometimes they put their uneducated opinions on their web sites, where it is obvious that they are strongly biased against Collaborative Law even though they claim to practice it. Others wait until the prospective client visits them and then the attorney verbally attacks Collaborative Law in general or as it would work in their case.

How to evaluate an attorney for handling a Collaborative case.

If you are searching for a Collaborative lawyer to help you in your case and you run into a lawyer who tries to convince you that Collaborative Law wouldn't be appropriate or wouldn't work in your case, you should look into these questions:

  • Has the attorney had at least one 2-day basic training in Collaborative Law? Tip -- the more training the attorney has had, the better (for you). If the attorney hasn't been to a 2-day basic training, don't waste your time with him/her.
  • Has the attorney had any Collaborative training recently? Recent training is always good. Some attorneys went to a basic training years ago and have never worked on a Collaborative case. A lack of experience combined with outdated training results in bad advice for you.
  • How many Collaborative cases has the attorney handled? If there haven't been any and the attorney is trying to talk you out of using Collaborative Law, you should move on.
It is very true that not every case is a good candidate for Collaborative Law, but you need an unbiased, qualified attorney to help you decide if you should use Collaborative Law. If you meet with an attorney who tries to talk you out of using Collaborative Law, please do yourself a favor and get a second opinion from a qualified Collaborative Lawyer.

How do you find a good Collaborative lawyer? Get referrals from friends or lawyers and other professionals, and do research on the Internet. A good starting point is the list, with background information, on the CLI-Tx web site at If you really want to try Collaborative Law (and you should!), don't take no for an answer from the first lawyer you meet with.

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