“Collaborative Law is practiced in forty countries; it’s not only an American phenomenon. It is about having such a strong settlement focus that the parties and their attorneys sign an agreement saying that, if they don’t resolve, the attorneys will withdraw and they have to start over. That basically defines collaborative law.”
~Kim Wright, talking on Bruce Whitfield’s radio show “The Money Show”, March 2014
The first 2 months of 2014 were dedicated to running in-house Integrative Law Training programs and setting up for South Africa’s second training in Collaborative Divorce. Several of those attorneys and mediators trained last year by Pauline Tesler of the Integrative Law Institute decided to re-attend the training with Kim Wright to deepen their understanding of Collaborative Practice. Making the switch from a mediation role to a collaborative one or from a litigious practice to a collaborative practice is not a simple one but as more and more family lawyers see the damaging effect of adversarial divorces upon families, they are prepared to investigate and invest in, a different way of practicing law. As those who undertook the training experienced, it requires a complete mindset shift to help one’s client access their highest vision for the future of the relationship, rather than to help the client do battle against their spouse.
To date there are 33 attorneys, mediators, coaches and counsellors in South Africa who have been trained in Collaborative Divorce. Some are already undertaking Collaborative Divorce work while others are slowly bringing in aspects of collaboration and trying to interest clients in what is still an unknown methodology in this country. The Cape Town group has created the National Association of Collaborative Practitioners and it is hoped the Johannesburg group will also be part of this association so that together they can grow awareness of this methodology in the profession and for the public. Success of collaborative practice has grown in other countries through client testimonials. Clients who have experienced an empowering legal process and who have been assisted to seek a settlement not based on anger or pain but a genuine desire to retain their own and their ex-spouse’s respect and dignity, convince their friends and family that this is the only way.
In July Nicolle Kopping-Pavars, a highly respected Collaborative Divorce Attorney who’s an ex-South African living in Canada is going to provide further training to the NACP. Nicolle will also be talking at the SAAM Conference and addressing Advocates for Transformation and the Johannesburg Bar amongst other groups while she is here. Manndi Schuld and Debra Segrott, trained Collaborative Practitioners from Cape Town spent time in the United States during June to deepen their understanding of Collaborative Practice in order to transfer this knowledge to the NACP. It is very encouraging to see this practice area, one of the many Integrative Law practice areas, come to life in South Africa!
The CIL arranged for Kim Wright to speak about Collaborative Divorce on Bruce Whitfield’s The Money show under the “Be a Better You” section. Kim ended up going head to head with the traditional divorce attorney on the show, Graham Greenstein. You can listen to the interview here.