Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What if There's No Collaborative Attorney in Your County?

Although Collaborative Law is spreading throughout Texas, there are still many counties that don't have trained Collaborative professionals.  Sometimes, in those under-served counties, people facing divorce are researching how to get divorced and uncover information about Collaborative Law.  Many of those people are intrigued, but then become frustrated because no one locally does Collaborative Law.  

Why don't all attorneys do Collaborative Law?

First, you should understand that attorneys need special training in order to be able to do Collaborative Law.  We normally go through a two-day basic training in the concepts and do a lot of role-playing to help learn the techniques and start to get comfortable.  An attorney without the training, technically can claim to do Collaborative Law,but they really won't have a "feel" for how it works.  They might be able to do an easy case, but will not be able to deal with difficult issues and difficult clients.  (Collaborative is not just for the "easy" cases.)

Some attorneys haven't learned enough about Collaborative Law to see its advantages.  Sometimes clients have to educate them.

Other attorneys are very comfortable with the current way they practice and just don't want to try something new.  That's very understandable and it's probably a good decision for them.

Some attorneys have heard about Collaborative Law and are opposed to it.  That seems to be a small group and my experience is that they don't really understand how and why the process works.  I also think they will usually come around and start practicing Collaborative Law when they see the market demand for it.  It's kinda the way mediation caught on in Texas in the 1980's and 1990's.

Sometimes there hasn't been convenient training in Collaborative Law.  That's a reality.  The Collaborative Law Institute of Texas (CLI-Tx) and various local groups have sponsored training and the State Bar of Texas has joined in as well, but it's hard to find two available days when there's a training at a convenient location.  For many attorneys, it's just a matter of time.

There's also a large group of neutral attorneys who are still waiting to see if Collaborative Law will "take off".  They are gradually getting the training, so there will be a bigger pool of attorneys in the future.

So, what can you do if there's no Collaborative attorney in your county?
In  some counties, you may be able to find Collaborative attorneys in an adjacent county.  For Example, many Collaborative attorneys in Tarrant County would be willing to work with parties from Parker County, Wise County, Johnson County, Ellis County or Hood County, and possibly other places.  Several years ago, another attorney and I did a Collaborative case for a Wichita Falls couple and met for meetings in Decatur.  You will find that Collaborative attorneys are enthusiastic about the process and will go out of their way to accommodate clients.

I believe, as demand grows, there will be more attorneys getting the training so they can do Collaborative cases.

The bottom line:  Look up the closest Collaborative attorney and discuss the situation.  You will always find someone willing to help if at all possible!

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