Where should I sit?
This is a common thought walking into any new room. This is especially true if you are involved in a legal discussion and emotions are high.
In a memorable Collaborative Practice training I attended a couple years ago, the instructor encouraged us to think about conference room space at our respective offices. We were to think about our seating space from the perspective of a client and also from the perspective of the other participants. We had a thorough discussion on the pros and cons of where to park various participants and a role-play about seating; who should sit where? Why?
It is a little like solving a puzzle, trying to find the best seating position to attain a comfortable and effective discussion. Should the attorneys sit next to each other and the clients sit next to each other? Should it be grouped by attorney-client pairs on each side of a table? Should the clients sit across the table from one another? Is it better to have the clients sit directly across or diagonal from one another?
Does this sound like what you would think a group of attorneys would get together to talk about? No, this type of discussion is way outside the realm of traditional litigation-based attorney training. This is the Collaborative way of thinking
Collaborative Attorneys and other Collaborative team members
are trained and experienced in thinking not just about the legal aspects of a case, but also the non-legal aspects of the client experience. Seating at a group meeting is just one example. It is quite simple: when people are comfortable, they are better able to think with a clear head. These non-legal factors in the client experience play an important part in negotiating successful and durable settlements.
It is common for attorneys to say that most of family law is not about the law. What they mean is that the law is only part of the equation and that emotions and other factors play a major role in resolving a case. Collaborative teams are uniquely trained to think about and value these non-legal factors in helping their clients negotiate legal solutions.
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