On January 1, 2019, I became the new President of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals (NYACP). In this blog, I reflect back on my journey to becoming a collaborative attorney and look toward my goals as President of the leading organization of collaborative divorce professionals in the New York metropolitan area.
The fact that I’m taking on this new role in 2019 means a lot to me. Exactly 10 years ago, my 2009 New Year’s resolution was that I would stop taking new litigated divorce cases and I would work, instead, with clients who were committed to resolving their family law matters outside of court.
Ironically, when I was in law school I thought I wanted to be a litigator. I also knew that I wanted to work with people as opposed to corporations. My parents had a difficult marriage and divorced when I was in college, which led me to be fascinated by family dynamics. I naturally gravitated toward family law classes in law school.
But I soon realized that the courtroom was the absolute worst place for families to try and resolve their differences. The judges were too busy, the process was too long and expensive and no one was happy in the end.
And the main reason for all the unhappiness was based on the fact that litigation is mostly about what happened in the past. But these are families we’re talking about. What happened during the marriage is often irrelevant. What is most important is how everything will work after the marriage is over:
- How will all members of the family be financially supported?
- How will the children be cared for and raised between 2 households?
- How will normal life changes be addressed in the future?
In 2004, when I first heard about the collaborative divorce process, I knew that was the route I needed take for my law practice. It took a couple of years to complete the mediation training and collaborative training I needed to develop the skills and knowledge to practice collaboratively. And for a couple of years afterward, I tried to balance litigation, mediation and collaborative cases in my practice. It wasn’t easy and I found the litigated cases the most stressful and unsatisfying for both my self and my clients.
I knew by 2009 that it was time to close the door on litigation and to open the door to a completely non-adversarial practice. That decision and career change have paid off not only on a personal level (less stress, better sleep, more control over my time and my life) but also on a financial and professional level. I provide so much more value to my clients now than I could as a litigation attorney. And the referrals I receive from former clients are the best reward because I see that they are satisfied with the outcome I helped them achieve.
Now, 10 years later, I’ll be leading the organization that was so important in my development as a collaborative attorney.
NYACP’s Mission is:
- Empower members to achieve excellence in collaborative skills and practice.
NYACP’s Values are to:
- Achieve excellence in developing and perfecting collaborative skills
- Embrace dignity and respect in our relationships with divorcing couples and our colleagues
- Have compassion and empathy for divorcing couples and their children
- Be creative, open-minded, honest and transparent
- Build trust in our collaborative community
I’m honored to be the President of NYACP at this particular time and I’m looking forward to providing more support and services to help our members grow their own collaborative practices and grow our collaborative community. The more qualified and well-educated collaborative attorneys we have in our region, the better outcomes New York area families will have after their divorces.
For more information about the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals, visit: www.nycollaborativeprofessionals.org