July 03, 2009

Ode to Some Old Hawks

Building on my post dated June 14th, let me express gratitude for the highly skilled Collaborative attorneys and mediators who have taught me, and and continue to teach me, my professional skillset.  And yes, every single one of them used to litigate cases, and did so for years, before they developed their practices as Collaborative attorneys and mediators.

One Collaborative colleague I’ve had the pleasure of working with not only previously litigated family law cases but worked in other civil areas before turning to family law.  This attorney is an excellent example of why we can’t let generalities and stereotypes cloud our view of professionals we’ve never worked with.  On paper, this attorney is exactly the type of attorney one might guess would struggle with the Collaborative approach – maybe stray into a “win/lose” mindset or fail to be entirely transparent with the other client’s Collaborative attorney.  But this Collaborative attorney taught me many things during our work together, like: don’t get dogmatic over idealistic “rules” of the Collaborative process– sometimes you need to take a client out of the room during a meeting to talk privately; that a gentle approach to an emotional client can be some unemotional “straight talk; ” and a way to diminish the specter of legal rights in the Collaborative process is to give a transparent view of the law, and give it early.

Another Old Hawk, my main mentor does not practice in my geographic area, but his teachings, supportive phone conversations, and long lunches with me have given me the majority of my mediation techniques.  And he’s a California Family Law Specialist, which requires you have a certain amount of hours in the courtroom with different types of hearings and trials.  He litigated for years before developing a mediation practice twenty years ago.

My post on June 14th was written with a broad brush from a wide view.  But this view should not negatively affect day to day practice with colleagues.  It’s one thing to predict that Collaborative attorneys’ and mediators’ legitimacy will soon rest on their study of the law and experience in Collaborative and mediation processes, rather than their litigation experience, and it’s totally another to make judgments of other professionals based on their past professional experience.  There are many gifted Old Hawks that are practicing today in the best of all possible ways– values-based, entirely transparent, kind but firm client-managment, and totally focused on a win/win result.  The skills of all New Doves rests on their shoulders.

She is even-handed, neutral, and unbiased in her counsel.

Unmani chose to practice family law and dedicates herself to resolving disputes with equanimity, respecting the emotional needs and wishes of each party at the table.  She is even-handed, neutral, and unbiased in her counsel. She also provided appropriate referrals to additional professionals. If you choose mediation – (the only sane way) – to complete your divorce from your once beloved, inviting Unmani Saraswati to facilitate is a brilliant choice.

- Mark S.
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