Written by My Collaborative Team President, Edward S. Sachs, ACP
During last week’s Happy Hour I mentioned that I had changed my view of what makes a good Collaborative Professional. Actually, I think that the definition changes with the facts and circumstances of your matter. But a recent experience better defined it for me.
We were preparing for a team meeting in which we expected to build options and hopefully help the couple reach a settlement or the framework for a settlement. The day before the team meeting one of the attorneys had requested an item be added to the agenda. I felt that adding the item was bringing up an unnecessary legal issue that would just get in the way of our goals for the meeting. At our professional pre-brief I raised the question of why it was being added to the agenda and that I didn’t think it was a Collaborative suggestion. The attorney took great offense to my comments.
My misstep and the attorneys very strong reaction could have very easily derailed the Process. But the attorney and I spoke is out. I apologized for my approach and better explained my concerns. The attorney apologized for her outburst and explained she wasn’t feeling well and had other matters on her mind. We talked it out and by the time the clients joined, you would have never known that we had just had a blowup amongst the professionals.
The meeting proceeded and was one of the best interest based negotiations I have been involved in. Options were offered and discussed and more importantly the clients expressed their interests and concerns. This led the husband’s attorney (the same attorney from above) to propose an out of the box option that met the wife’s interest for a “vacation fund” while bringing the monthly alimony down to a level that was comfortable and met the interests of the husband. And interestingly, the attorney was not really comfortable with the concept she was proposing but it worked for this couple.
The day ended in settlement. And it was a picture-perfect team meeting.
To me, a “good” Collaborative Professional can receive criticism, give criticism, and openly discuss their feelings with the professional team. Good Collaborative professionals listen. They listen to their fellow colleagues as well as listen to not only their own client but the other client. A good Collaborative Professional can work seamlessly with teammates to achieve the goals and interests of the clients. And a good Collaborative Professional puts the interests of the clients ahead of their own.
What do you believe makes a good Collaborative Professional? Join us at Happy Hour on Friday at 4:30 Eastern and tell us what you think.