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Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution

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Advanced family collaborative law

Faculty: Pauline Tesler and David Fink


Whether you've completed nearly five or more than a hundred collaborative matters, you'll leave this course with enhanced understandings and skills that you can use immediately on Monday morning. You will explore collaborative practice challenges through videos, discussion, role-play, demonstrations, and self-reflective exercises that target your personal growth points; you will experience new approaches for conflict resolution during spontaneous discussion and role play of thorny problems from your most difficult collaborative cases. The course, grounded in decades of collaborative and mediation work with clients, includes growth-edge material from systems theory, powerful non-defensive communications, positive psychology, and other vectors of the integrative law movement.

Both trainers are leaders in the collaborative divorce movement, as well as longtime family law specialists (certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization) and Fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  Both have been named repeatedly as California Super Lawyers. Their style is spontaneous, interactive, challenging, and lively. And they don't always agree.

What you will learn:

  • Building client "uptake" while satisfying ethical obligations during the process choice phase
  • Identifying and working with  difficult clients
  • Using " The Law" to support client centered negotiations
  • Deconstructing "interests": How Maslow's hierarchy of needs helps us understand  the differences between collaborative team practice and other dispute resolution modalities
  • What story will guide the case? When and how will it be heard? Employing narrative theory in collaborative practice to build a "third story
  • "Navigating the tension between being a team player and being an advocate: How to locate the dynamic  "sweet spot"  in our work as collaborative lawyers
  • Basic neuro-literacy: What you need to know about cognitive and positive psychology, human needs theory, and brain science for "best practices" collaboration
  • Making the most of collaborative structure, roadmaps, protocols, and process agreements as powerful conflict management tools
  • Practice groups and teams: Why the Lone Ranger can't succeed as a collaborative lawyer

Pauline Tesler, a pioneering collaborative lawyer,  cofounded the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, was its first president, and cofounded its journal,  The Collaborative Review. Her extensive writings include Collaborative Law: Achieving Effective Resolution in Divorce Without Litigation (ABA 2008, 2nd ed.), and Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move on with Your Life (HarperCollins, 2006). Recipient of the first ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver award, she has trained thousands of lawyers in North America, Europe, Australia,  and Israel. Tesler practices collaborative law and directs the new Integrative Law Institute at Commonweal, a nonprofit  program offering  trainings and workshops for lawyers and judges integrating brain science, neuro-economics, and positive psychology with front-line dispute resolution practice.

David Fink is a member attorney and cofounder of Collaborative Practice San Francisco and currently serves as president of the board of Collaborative Practice California, one of the world's largest collaborative organizations. Former chair of the Family Law Sections of the California State Bar and the San Francisco Bar Association, Fink is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and served as chapter president in 2008. His legislative advocacy helped pass the California collaborative law statute, one of three in the nation. An experienced mediator and collaborative lawyer, he is consistently elected as a Super Lawyer by his peers. He brings skills from both roles into his work as a trainer of collaborative lawyers.