UPDATE: These seminars occurred in the past. View the complete list of upcoming seminars to discover live programs that are available now.
Have you considered becoming a registered collaborative professional? Do you want to know more about the collaborative process?
Today’s blog shares the inside scoop on collaborative law programs that we received from
Susan L. Zwaenepoel, Registrar of the collaborative association for the Edmonton – Grande Prairie area and an instructor for LESA’s upcoming Basic Collaborative Law program in Calgary on March 13-14.
Can you give me an overview about the collaborative law programs? What courses do practitioners have to take and why are they valuable?
There is some variation in different parts of the province, because the collaborative process is governed by local groups that set up their own particular structure.
But generally speaking there are three components to the training. The first component is a 2-day introductory course on the collaborative process. That course covers the basics of understanding the participation agreements, how the process works, the basis on which agreements are reached, understanding how it differs from other processes, and that sort of thing. The other two components include a 5-day family mediation course (where you learn a lot about interest based negotiation, other forms of negotiation, and dealing with the parties very directly at the table) and a 4-day interest based negotiation course, which is specifically focused on interest based negotiations. The [interest based negotiations] seminar offered through LESA is focused on interest based negotiations through a collaborative file and how you would use those tools in a collaborative situation.
Is collaborative law just for family law lawyers?
It doesn’t have to be. Internationally there are places where they do collaborative law in the civil movement. Here in Alberta there’s been some exploration of that, but formally it is not a process that is being used. They certainly looked at it in the wills and estates area, and there may have been some exploration in the civil area, but I’m not aware of any other place where it is being used right now.
What are the top 3 things you think people should know about collaborative law?
Collaborative law is the process by which people can resolve their family law issues, where (1) they are consciously deciding that they will not do that in court, where (2) they will use a structured process that relies on interest based negotiations to reach that agreement, and where (3) if other professionals are needed to assist them in reaching that resolution they will be added to the process.
Those professionals will also have training in the collaborative process, so, for example, we can add a neutral child specialist to the process, where they have parenting issues and concerns or need some general information and advice. We can add a neutral financial professional, to give financial assistance where there are specific financial issues that we need to address. We also can involve divorce coaches to assist the parties in managing the emotional component, because divorce can be a very stressful, emotional process for people to go through.
The idea is to reach an agreement that will work for both people: rather than a win-lose kind of situation, trying to create a win-win outcome for the parties. I think one of the best things about working in collaborative law is that, when you’ve had a successful collaborative file, the parties have a good foundation for being able to continue to work together in the future, especially when they have reasons why they need to do that.
Tell me more about LESA’s upcoming Basic Collaborative Law seminar. Why will participants benefit from attending? What will be the main takeaways for them?
If you are practicing in the family law area and you want to be able to do a collaborative negotiation, you need to have completed the training and be a registered member of one of the local associations, because in order to do collaborative law you need to have the [relevant] skill set. If you have an interest in doing a form of negotiation that is structured and is outside of the courtroom, then you’ll need to do this training in order to have people who are willing to practice it with you.
It’s a whole new skill set. It’s a whole different way of thinking about how you approach a file, and it’s not something that necessarily comes naturally, especially to lawyers, because we’ve been trained to approach things in quite a different way. Having the hands-on instruction and the practice that you get within in the different [required collaborative law ] programs really helps you shift towards thinking about the practice of family law in a different way.
If practitioners are interested in joining a local collaborative association, where can they find more information about the process of going about that?
We have a website: www.collaborativepractice.ca. It’s the same website across the province, and it has a lot of basic information. It will also tell you who the Registrar is in your area, and you can contact that Registrar to get further information.
One of the best ways [to learn more about collaborative law] is to take the Basic Collaborative Law course that LESA offers because we cover all of that stuff in the course.
Another reason to take Basic Collaborative Law, even if you don’t actually intend on practicing collaborative law yourself, is simply that collaborative law is one of the options that clients have in terms of choosing how to resolve their issues. Taking the course and understanding how the collaborative process works will allow you to do a better job of explaining options to clients in the first place. I think a lot of practitioners do not really understand how it works, so their clients may not be as fully informed of their options as they might otherwise be.
Did you know that LESA offers collaborative law programs on a regular basis?
Here’s what’s upcoming:
Basic Collaborative Law • Calgary • March 13-14
Mediation of Family and Divorce Conflict • Calgary • May 11-15 *SEMINAR FULL. WAITLIST ONLY*
Interest Based Negotiations • Edmonton • September 24-27
Since these courses fill up quickly, you’ll want to register early to secure your spot.