Happy New Year! I am one of those people who annoyingly wishes folks a happy new year long after January 1st. After the middle of the month, odd looks remind me to move on. Before I do, however, I would like to reflect on last year’s collaborative progress in my office and in the State of New Jersey as a whole.
As I’ve reported, last fall New Jersey passed the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act, thus formally acknowledging our State’s already growing collaborative practices. I would like to thank again all of the dedicated professionals and legislators who brought this statute into being.
In my office, I completed 14 cases to Final Judgment of Divorce in 2014. Of those, eight (or 57%) were collaborative cases with signed Participation Agreements. These cases ranged from fourteen to twenty four months in age. As a solo practitioner, I am proud of that ratio and happy to see I have passed the half way mark to a complete collaborative and mediation practice! I have to say though that it has taken longer than I expected to change the world! Can you believe that?
In July, 2006 I attended a training with Stuart Webb, Esq., the founder of collaborative divorce law and his colleague, Mr. Ron D. Ousky, Esq. Their knowledge and enthusiasm changed my life and legal career forever for the better. In my copy of their well-known book The Collaborative Way to Divorce, Ron signed “Welcome to the Revolution!”
How I so wanted a revolution, a quick turnover, a coup over divorce litigation practices with the uprising of collaborative professionals who would bring the lasting and remarkable benefits of collaborative divorce practices to the world!
Yet, as with many revolutionaries, I underestimated how long it would take to revolutionize divorce practice. Yet, after nine years of multiple trainings, an unwavering commitment to the practice and public education and writing, the shift is here.
Those of us who have been breaking ground over the years have helped build a foundation for new collaborative practitioners. You are not starting at ground zero and trying to move a mountain of rock hard traditional litigation practice.
I encourage all of you who are new practitioners just embracing the collaborative way to divorce to stay the course, believe in the work and yourself- because it’s worth it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Best wishes, Joanne