I recently had a professional Team debrief of a Collaborative case that terminated after two four-way meetings, the second at which we signed the Participation Agreement.
After the Participation Agreement was signed, the clients finally made it in to see the coach, who immediately contacted the attorneys with her conclusion that the couple was incapable of divorcing Collaboratively. The parties had previously litigated their first separation, and then they reconciled. They wanted to try the Collaborative Process to not repeat that experience. They did. And they could not. So, the case was terminated.
This was the first termination of a Collaborative case I have had for several years. While all the professionals knew that the court system is likely to tear this two-child family apart and that the Collaborative Process was their best chance, terminating was absolutely the right thing to do.
We felt that it was important to debrief this case. The other attorney on the case was trained yet had not had a Collaborative case before this one. Space needed to be provided to hear her experience and to provide assurance that this experience was not the "common" one for most Collaborative cases. I wanted her not to give up hope, or to be jaded from this experience.
It was an interesting discussion between the two attorneys and the coach. It was clear to me that the attorney was struggling with the litigator's brain of wanting to know and provide answers and the Collaborative Professional's paradigm shift mindset of knowing that all the answers will come in time. While my words and the coach's tried to assure the other attorney that she would likely experience paradigm shift in her next case, it is only when that case comes and the attorney experiences it in action will that experience happen.
We then moved into another important piece of the debrief, the part where I acknowledged my own role in this process and the termination. I really wanted this couple, my client, their children, to succeed in this process. My client mouthed the words, and his heart was in the right place. And I wanted to experience a newly trained Collaborative attorney having the experience of her first Collaborative case.
As I look back, however, and I expressed this to the attorney and the coach . . . . I should have known. Or I knew, and I did not trust my instinct or my decision. Mind over heart? Perhaps.
Trusting termination. Trusting ourselves.
I think that is the right way to go.
Kevin R. Scudder has built a successful law practice in Seattle, Washington, that incorporates his values of compassion and integrity, as well as intellectual/emotional growth and development. He is a full-time Peacemaker working on out-of-court, client-focused resolutions. Kevin is a Collaborative Trainer and a regular contributor to the Collaborative literary community. http://www.ballardcollaborativelaw.com/
and a regular contributor to the Collaborative literary community. http://www.ballardcollaborativelaw.com/