Dedicate to Collaborate

Reflections from a peacemaking lawyer and mediator dedicated to collaborative problem-solving.
Nov
06

Returning the favor: why reciprocation bias is making your divorce harder than it needs to be.

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Think about a time when a friend invited you to dinner or offered you a ride you felt an intense desire to cook for them next time, or to return the favor in some way, didn't you? And sure, you assumed that was simply because you've been brought up that way, or because you think it's nice to be nice, but actually there's a really powerful psycholog...
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Sep
08

The brain behaviors controlling your divorce: confirmation bias.

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"He just said what ?" When conflicts arise it feels like logic and rationality are the first things we toss aside. We end up saying and doing things that feel completely out of character and reacting in ways that even we can't understand. The inevitable outcome is, of course, heightened tension and petty arguments that become all-out war. But here'...
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Sep
01

You’ve decided on mediation — do you still need a divorce attorney? The answer may surprise you.

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Divorce lawyers really do get a bad rap. Many folks see them as blood-thirsty demons who'll try their best to turn a squabble into a war and suck your bank account dry in the process. So if you're exploring mediation as a more peaceful way of handling your separation, it would make sense if you were a little leery of attorneys in general. But is th...
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Jul
23

Custody and the court system: why it might not be the solution you're looking for.

When it comes to divorce and relationship breakdown, for every person desperate to avoid the courtroom, there's another who thinks that court is the only solution. As soon as they realize that a separation is on the cards they start to draw battle lines. They begin lining up their evidence in an attempt to "prove" that their spouse or co-parent is ...
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Mar
29

How do you find the best divorce mediator?

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How do you find the best divorce mediator? Unfortunately, making the difficult decision to proceed with your divorce is only the first in a whole line of difficult decisions. The second decision is a pivotal one; how are you going to find the best person to help you navigate the whole process? After all, the professional you choose to work with wil...
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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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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
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
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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Guest — RIdley
It's good to know what actually happens at mediation. I like how you said that there are a lot of end products that mediation can ... Read More
Friday, 16 November 2018 13:17
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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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Recent Comments
Guest — Karen Olson
Congratulations Nancy! You are an inspiration!
Tuesday, 18 September 2018 21:04
Guest — Nancy Retsinas
Oh Karen, thank you! I am so inspired by this work and am motivated to spread the word. So many people can benefit from a differen... Read More
Tuesday, 18 September 2018 22:39
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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

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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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