When we began, there was already a fair amount of collegiality among the Domestic Relations bar. The group was handpicked by a well-respected former judge and a pioneering family law mediator. Because effective collaboration, in any field, requires some modicum of trust amongst those working together, it helped that we all knew one another and that we all had meaningful amounts of experience in the local Family Court. Regular monthly meetings in which we discuss the successes and failures of our collaborative cases have always been a hallmark of our local group. We understand that a certain amount of vulnerability amongst the mutually regarded professionals is essential to building trust. Small group settings are conducive to sharing.
Approximately five years into our Collaborative experience, Collaborative lawyers around the country began to realize that the problems our clients were bringing to the table were not purely legal and that our "process" could go much smoother with the assistance of allied professionals trained in communication skills, personality traits and financial specialties. We recruited mental health professionals and financial specialists and provided training in our Collaborative Law methods, including mediation skills, basic family law parameters and the particularized roles of attorneys, mental health professionals and financial advisors in the Collaborative Process as opposed to our traditional litigator, therapist and financial sales roles. At this point in time, the allied professionals are full-fledged members of our multi-disciplinary Collaborative Law Academy.