How I got introduced to Collaborative Practice…
In 2000, I met Stu Webb at a meeting of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers (IAHL). There, I found out that he and a small group of lawyers in Minneapolis came up with a brilliant idea. In the divorce context, rather than fight, get the clients and the other lawyer to focus on settlement. Get that agreement up front and tell the clients if they don’t settle, they need to get different lawyers to litigate the case.
As soon as I heard about it, it made sense to me. My marriage at the time was a bit shaky so I asked Stu for his phone number.
A year and a half later, my husband and I were ready to get divorced. I called Stu to get more information. He sent me some written material. He did not know of any collaboratively trained lawyers in Illinois, so I called a family lawyer I knew who also mediated. My husband got a family friend to represent him and our collaborative team was formed.
The four of us met in our house at our dining room table and worked out the settlement terms. It was not easy. In fact, I tell clients that collaborative law is not for sissies! My husband and I had to deal with our issues face to face. Emotions run very deep and you don’t get to hide behind your lawyer or talk “through” your lawyer.
But ultimately, we kept coming back to the table and, in July of 2002, we finished our divorce. We grew as a couple and have a much better relationship today than I ever imagined was possible.