Dedicate to Collaborate

Reflections from a peacemaking lawyer and mediator dedicated to collaborative problem-solving.
Feb
20

Mediation vs. collaborative law: which is the right one for your divorce?

Mediation vs. collaborative law: which is the right one for your divorce?
You've made the decision: you're going ahead with the divorce. Now, before you Google "divorce attorney Portland/Vancouver" and steel yourself for the stress, upset, and eye-watering costs of a trip to the courtroom, ask yourself this: "What do I want my divorce to look like?" It may well be that you're not going to escape litigation. Sometimes, fo...
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Feb
06

What to do when “sorry” seems to be the hardest word to say.

What to do when “sorry” seems to be the hardest word to say.
"Sorry" can be a hard word to say. It's another way of saying, "I got it wrong", "I messed up", "I'm not perfect". Admitting that to yourself can be hard, never mind putting it out there for other people to hear. But you're human, which means that you will screw up at some point — at work, with your spouse, your parents, your kids, and your friends...
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Jan
23

7 Strategies for a Smoother Divorce

7 Strategies for a Smoother Divorce
Out with the old, in with the new?  This season is the perfect storm when it comes to divorce: holiday stress, financial strain, lots of time spent with the in-laws, all closely followed by the inevitable desire for New Year renewal. We're all looking for things to give up; not-so-great habits, not-so-great attitudes, and apparently, not-so-gr...
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Jan
09

The Butterfly Effect: Why We Should Make 2019 a Year of Collaboration, Not Conflict

The Butterfly Effect: Why We Should Make 2019 a Year of Collaboration, Not Conflict
We just can't help it. As soon as the ball drops in Times Square, we start thinking self-improvement.  The questions begin: how do I avoid the same mistakes I made last year? How do I become the best version of myself? How do I make this year a year of health and happiness, a year of progress, and a year of peace?  And sure, there are som...
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Dec
19

5 Mediation-Inspired Tips for Keeping Calm During the Holidays

5 Mediation-Inspired Tips for Keeping Calm During the Holidays
I bet every single one of you can remember at least one awkward holiday meal ruined by tactless family members, heated political debate, or the airing of past grievances. Even the happiest, most peace-loving families can begin to show a few cracks over the pumpkin pie.  And just think, we get to do it all again this month for Christmas! When i...
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Dec
12

The Most Important (And Often-Overlooked) Tool for Conflict Resolution

The Most Important (And Often-Overlooked) Tool for Conflict Resolution
Isn't it frustrating when someone just won't listen to you? You've begged, reasoned, pleaded and things still aren't getting done the way you want them. You're the only one pulling your weight and you've had enough. So you call on a mediator.  A quick fix? ​ ​ The relief is immediate — finally you'll get things sorted. After months (or years!)...
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Nov
28

The Most Important “Language” You Can Speak This Holiday Season

The Most Important “Language” You Can Speak This Holiday Season
There's nothing quite like the moment where a perfectly lovely family dinner takes a turn for the tense. Whether it's a political disagreement, old hurts resurfacing, or just the very logical result of a bunch of tired, stressed people getting up close and personal, it's never fun to have the conversation devolve. Depending on how your family deals...
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Nov
14

Why is everyone talking about mediation?

Why is everyone talking about mediation?
All hail the Internet! Thanks to the power of Google we all have instant access to the kind of legal information that was previously only dished out directly by our attorney. With a few clicks of a button you discover that an expensive lawsuit and a bitter court battle is not the only path to conflict resolution. You quickly learn it's not even the...
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Oct
31

Why it’s so important to get mediation sooner rather than later.

Why it’s so important to get mediation sooner rather than later.
Court battles: people yelling, reputations destroyed, astronomical fees, anger, and bitterness. And when a dispute ends up in the courtroom, no one really "wins". Not even the lawyers. After all, even when a client gets the result they want, it will have come at a huge cost — it's not exactly a process that encourages repeat business. There's no de...
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Oct
17

How to become a master of mediation in 7 simple steps.

How to become a master of mediation in 7 simple steps.
Now, before you light the candles and reach for your yoga pants, I'm talking mediation, not meditation. But you'd be forgiven for the confusion — mediation and meditation do share similarities beyond alphabetic arrangement, chief among them the goal of finding peace and tranquillity. Neither of which are easy to come by in our busy, stressful lives...
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Oct
03

Power dynamics at play: how to resolve financial conflicts in a peaceful way.

Power dynamics at play: how to resolve financial conflicts in a peaceful way.
You know what it's like when you're newly in love: you feel like you would do absolutely anything for your partner. What does it matter if you're a high flyer and he's earning peanuts? Love means unconditional support, right? Right! At least for a while. Then life gets in the way; love can fade and responsibilities tend to grow. Suddenly that discr...
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Sep
18

What Do You Really Get Out of Mediation?

What Do You Really Get Out of Mediation?
If you've never been to mediation, you might not be totally sure what you actually get out of the whole process. For instance, is it just someone to scribe your agreements? Is it just a conversation? What do you actually get out of the whole process? There's so much more to mediation –– and many of the "end products" that mediators can provide actu...
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Sep
05

The one workshop that changed everything for me. (Plus I’m in a book!)

The one workshop that changed everything for me. (Plus I’m in a book!)
In 2015, I was at a crossroads. I had been practicing law for 23 years and for the last ten, I had been straddling the line between a traditional and a collaborative practice. The time I spent going to court, leading my clients into what I knew would be a devastating experience for them, was taking a toll on me as well as them.  I no longer ha...
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Aug
22

What actually happens in mediation?

What actually happens in mediation?
It's a hazard of the job – people tend to come to me with some very strange ideas of what mediation actually entails. Some people have the idea that it's basically just lawyers doing typical lawyer things, like a kind of court-lite. Others come in with the idea that we're going to just talk and talk until we grind everyone in the room down to a com...
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Aug
08

Six questions to ask yourself to keep a difficult conversation on track

Six questions to ask yourself to keep a difficult conversation on track
"We need to talk." These may be the four most feared words in the English language. Because as we all know from experience, what happens next is usually pretty ugly. You know how it goes: Say you've got a big deadline at work. On Monday, you asked your partner for help cleaning up this week. On Thursday, you come home late and tired to three days w...
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Jul
25

What’s the difference between a disagreement and a conflict and a dispute? (Hint: just knowing this one thing can help you solve some seriously stubborn problems.)

What’s the difference between a disagreement and a conflict and a dispute? (Hint: just knowing this one thing can help you solve some seriously stubborn problems.)
You'd think that when it comes down to it, a fight is a fight is a fight. No matter what you call it, you've still got two sides trying to get their needs met, two people not getting what they want, and one big problem to be solved, right? Actually ... wrong. A disagreement is different from a conflict, which is again different from a dispute – ​ a...
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Jul
11

6 Ground Rules for Resolving Disputes

6 Ground Rules for Resolving Disputes
Imagine for a minute that it's 200 years ago. We have the medical technology to do surgery, and survival rates are OK. But surgery always involves a great deal of violence to the body. A simple thing like removing an inflamed appendix might mean that you have to open up a person's abdomen entirely, rather than making the tiny incision required toda...
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Jun
27

The 3 mindset shifts you need to solve complex conflicts

June-2018-2
Figuring out a solution to a complex conflict is almost never totally straightforward, never mind easy or fun. (After all, it's called dispute resolution for a reason.) But some conflicts are more complicated than others simply because of the factors involved. Situations in which spouses are living in real estate purchased by their soon- to-be-ex's...
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Jun
14

Why Quitting Court was the Best Decision I’ve Ever Made — For Myself and My Clients

Why Quitting Court was the Best Decision I’ve Ever Made — For Myself and My Clients
Imagine that it's 1991. I've just graduated law school, passed the bar, and am tearing up the courtrooms like nobody's business. Divorce cases? Settled. Custody hearings? Taken care of. Business disputes? Done and done. I'd gone into law with an absolute passion for protecting my clients. I'm an advocate right down to my bones — there's nothing I l...
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May
30

When an Award is More than an Award...

When an Award is More than an Award...
This spring I had the great honor of receiving a Women of Achievement Iris Award — a wonderful tradition of celebrating women leaders in my area. As I stood on the stage, surrounded by women who've shaped not only the community I live in, but their industries as a whole, I was so grateful to be a small part of a much bigger movement. Because while ...
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