Tuesday, September 22, 2015

This Year for the Collaborative Law Section

By Jeremy E. Gluckman and Christine A. Hearn

     The Collaborative Law Section begins this year with an invitation to all of our fellow Bar members to join the section and to start learning how to resolve legal disputes through the collaborative process. Our two local family law collaborative groups, the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group and Next Generation Divorce, have continued to thrive throughout the past year, and a third collaborative practice group, the Florida Civil Collaborative Practice Group, has been formed for civil practitioners in the Tampa Bay area. We encourage all of you to consider joining one of these groups and to come to our section’s luncheons to enhance your knowledge of this rapidly evolving alternative to the adversarial legal process. The section is dedicated to promoting the awareness and use of the collaborative process in family law cases. Now we hope to help you add clients to your civil practice so they can find collaborative solutions to their legal problems as opposed to litigating.

     We are proud that our section has had a Pro Bono Committee from its inception. We will be encouraging all of you to volunteer some of your time to develop the work of that committee and to give yourself practice opportunities to strengthen your professional skills in collaboration. We hope to expand this work to family law clinics at our local law schools this year. Volunteers will also be sought for those clinics.
This year, we also plan to gather resources and professionals to work with the very large percentage of middle-income people who file pro se actions in the family law division of our circuit court. Specifically, we hope to implement a new project for clients of “modest means” in an effort to produce more affordable collaborative services to a broader range of clients in our community.

     On a statewide basis, many members of our section have been actively participating in efforts to pass the Uniform Collaborative Law Act in the Florida Legislature, as well as standards for Supreme Court certification in the area of collaborative law. Our section will continue to support that effort during the 2016 legislative session. With success, we will see collaboration become a common and everyday means of solving legal conflicts, and Florida will continue to be one of the leading states in the national and international collaborative movement.

     You may already know something about how the collaborative process uses a full team of professionals ― two lawyers, a mental health facilitator, and an experienced forensic financial expert ― to prevent married partners from becoming adversaries. But did you also know that this same process can be used to resolve trust and estate issues, employment cases, or other litigation disputes? Join our section (without a fee), come to our luncheons, and become a member of one (or more) of our practice groups to find out more about collaboration as an alternative to battling as adversaries. It will be the first step toward helping clients move forward in a positive, less destructive direction.