UF collaborative law training teaches innovative conflict-resolution skills
by Scott Emerson
Robin Davis, UF legal skills professor and director of the Institute for Dispute Resulution, speaks to a group of professionals during UF Law's collaborative law training workshop.
Seventy legal, mental health and financial professionals looking to provide clients with win-win solutions without the stress of a trial attended a recent Collaborative Law Training on the University of Florida Levin College of Law campus.
Sponsored by the UF Law Center on Children and Families and Institute for Dispute Resolution, this intensive two-day training provided interdisciplinary professionals with cooperative methods of practice and skills to assist their clients in resolving conflict and reaching a fair and equitable settlement.
"Collaborative law is an entirely different way of thinking, acting and talking as compared to the traditional litigation model," said Robert J. Merlin, a workshop participant and a Coral Gables attorney experienced in collaborative law. "This training benefited those who are new to collaborative law litigation as well those of us who are experienced collaborative professionals."
Breakout sessions provided participants the opportunity to focus on skills unique to their specialty as well as joint sessions where trainees learned how the interdisciplinary, collaborative team-model works. The curriculum covered each stage of the collaborative process and offered an interactive experience using real life case examples, demonstrations, role plays and team exercises. These interactive sessions provided non-adversarial strategies and techniques to help clients achieve agreement in a dignified and respectful manner.
"Participants learned how to handle collaborative matters from various stages of the case," said Robin Davis, UF legal skills professor and director of the Institute for Dispute Resulution. "While this training focused on family law problems and practice, collaborative law may be applied to any area of the law."
"I expect all of the participants left the training with a better knowledge of the collaborative process," said Davis. "This training provided attendees with a better understanding of why handling divorces through the collaborative process is not only better for the clients and their children, but why it is better for all of the professionals involved in the process. While this training focused on family law problems and practice, collaborative law may be applied to any area of the law."
The UF College of Law Center on Children and Families and Institute for Dispute Resulution are committed to educating and training a new generation of practitioners across disciplines in methods of innovative and collaborative conflict resolution in furtherance of advocating for children and families, and for a more peaceable society.