Clarify your Motivation
Clarify why you want to build a Collaborative practice. Ask yourself:
- How is Collaborative work aligned with your values?
- How will your work life be different?
- How will your life be different?
- How will you feel when you have more Collaborative cases?
The next step is to set specific concrete goals, such as: I will have 3 new collaborative files in the next 3 months.
Set Action Steps
Create a set of actions steps such as:
- I will talk to each new client that meets with me about their interests.
- I will talk to each new client that meets with me about their process options, including Collaborative Process.
- I will have lunch or coffee with one collaborative colleague each month.
Create an accountability system whether that is a buddy system of monthly check-ins, a coach, a monthly meeting with your staff to review your goals, or actions steps and set them for the next month.
Spread the Word
Tell everyone you know about Collaborative Practice. Get really good at talking about it in an engaging way that invites questions. For example, when asked what you do, try, “I work with strong inter-disciplinary teams to help families move through a separation without ever going to court.” Or “I help separating couples get responsible closure on the legal and financial issues and move on with the business of co-parenting without animosity or conflict.”
Create Collaborative Friendly Points of Contact
- Update your bio and picture on your local CP website and on the OCLF website and ensure it is client friendly and Collaborative friendly
- Update your website and ensure it is client friendly and Collaborative friendly
- First phone call with your office –is it you or your assistant? Is it a consistent experience for all who call? What are you hoping to create in that initial phone call – confidence to schedule an appointment to come and see you and some level of screening for good fit
- First visit to your office – greeting, reception (articles or binders – settlement focused or litigation focused), your office – tons of files or ‘you are the only person that matters in this moment’, is your phone ringer turned off?
Focus on Initial Consultations
Get really good at initial consultations. Use open ended questions, create a natural flow to the conversation, use active listening, mirroring, and re-framing skills.
The FDA’s – a client friendly way to find out about interests
Fears – What is keeping you up at night? What would be the worst possible outcome for you? For your children? What are the risks or dangers in this moment?
Dreams – in your most hopeful moments, what is your vision for how this separation could turn out for each of you in your family? What are the opportunities in this moment?
Already Haves – what resources already exist in your family? What should we be taking advantage of and building upon? eg. Grandparents in the city, pensions, secure jobs, opportunities to write off expenses in a business. What are your strengths?
The 3 M’s and Process Options
- Minimize Fears
- Maximize Dreams
- Make use of already haves
Discuss the relevant process options with your client and talk about the concrete ways in which the Collaborative Process could minimize the likelihood of their fears happening, maximize the likelihood of achieving some of their dreams; and make good use of what they already have – their strengths.
Ask the Glowing Referral Question
If we were meeting here three years from today looking back, what would have had to happen for you to be highly recommending this process to a friend or family member?
What would I have done or not done for you to be highly recommending that your friend or family member come and see me if they were separating?
What would have happened for you to give a lukewarm referral to a friend or even a ‘stay away’ warning?
It all begins and ends with creating value. Continue to create better and better value so your clients and the team members you work with become your glowing ambassadors, spreading the word about you and Collaborative Practice.
Written by: Deborah Graham
Deborah Graham, Collaborative Family Lawyer and Mediator
124 Merton St. Toronto, ON M4S 2Z2 Tel: 416-597-9796