Are we listening? What clients say they want. (Part 3 of 8) -- CONTROL IN THE PROCESS: CLIENTS WANT IT. DO THEY GET IT?

By: Tonda Mattie, Member IACP Research Committee

As Collaborative Professionals, we need to pay attention to any process factor that is correlated to satisfaction with the Collaborative Process itself.  One of those factors is a client’s sense of control in the process.  In fact, of the process factors studied, “control” is the factor MOST correlated with satisfaction with the Collaborative Process.  Obviously, we need to pay attention to this factor and make it work toward the betterment of the client’s experience. We also need to be mindful of it to increase the likelihood the client will speak highly of the Collaborative Process to others. 

Unfortunately, we are not quite sure what clients mean when they identify that control of the process is important to them.  No worries! This ignorance provides an opportunity for us. Rather than guess or make assumptions about their meaning, Collaborative Professionals should be proactive and ask clients directly what they mean by control in the process.  

Furthermore, professionals have an opportunity to shape realistic expectations about what it means in the Collaborative Process to be in control.  Talk to your clients about control of the process versus control of the outcome.  In my opinion, control of the process is a function of the Collaborative Team.  Control of the outcome, on the other hand, is very much in the control of the client.  This will need to be explained to the client at the front end of their divorce with reminders throughout their divorce of how they are controlling their outcome.   

Why is this process factor so important to our clients?  Perhaps because clients feel so out of control when facing a divorce.  This can be normalized for our clients. Of course they feel out of control; everything is changing!  But Collaborative Professionals can help clients regain some of the control clients feel they have lost.  By encouraging our clients to actively participate in the Collaborative Process clients regain control of what their future will look like.  

Tonda Mattie has been a Family Law attorney for over 30 years and has practiced exclusively Collaborative Family Law since 2006.  She has been involved in the Collaborative Law movement since 1992. She was past President and past Co-President of the Collaborative Law Institute (CLI) of Minnesota and is currently a member of the CLI Board.  Tonda has headed the CLI Training Committee as chair or co-chair since 2004. She is a recipient of the Stu Webb Award. Tonda is engaged in the practice of her dreams using the Collaborative Process.