Collaborative Practice ‘Tips’

Helpful Ideas To:

  • Build Confidence
  • Increase Cases
  • Deepen Skills


Practice Tip #1: Be Welcoming and Attentive

Be Welcoming and Attentive

You have an opportunity to start building rapport from the very first contact with a new client. Do you take the first call or does your staff? How the first interaction is handled sets the tone for the relationship with that potential client.


  • Have you trained your office staff to welcome inquiries?
  • Do they know how to respond to an anxious caller?
  • Does your staff know how to connect the caller to you in the most effective way?
  • Once in your office, do you listen to enough of their story to connect the collaborative process to their needs?


  • Have a training session with all office staff; have them practice answering typical questions they might be asked.
  • Educate staff about the collaborative process.
  • Affirm their important role with the prospective client.

When you are speaking with a client leave ample time. You communicate a lot of information about your style through your pacing, your tone of voice and your manner. You want your client to know that they’ve been heard and understood. Setting aside enough time makes for a better connection with a prospective client.


Practice Tip #2: Maximize Initial Interview with Client

Maximize Initial Interview with Client

How you conduct an initial interview with a prospective client can make all the difference in whether you are engaged as the client’s attorney.


  • Listen with genuine curiosity for both content and meaning.
    • -It’s a skill that can be learned and practiced
  • Remember what a client tells you and refer back to it during the interview:
    • “I remember you saying how important it is for your son to be comfortable in both homes.”
  • Go beyond fact questions to uncover ‘real’ interests and needs:
    • “When the two of you communicated well what seemed to work?”
    • “What is important to you about staying in the house?”
  • Make the connection between the client’s needs and what the collaborative process has to offer.

Demonstrating this kind of interest provides you with important information.  At the same time you are gathering information you are building rapport and developing a connection with a  prospective client.


Practice Tip #3: The Benefits of Using a Coach

The Benefits of Using a Coach

Divorce is a legal as well as an emotional process

As an attorney, your belief and confidence in the value of using a coach, whether it is one coach or two, has a powerful impact on the client’s response to your suggestion.

If  this is your first time using a mental health professional as part of the team be certain to plan what you will say and be sure to anticipate the challenging questions you will likely be asked.

What you might say:

“My area of expertise is the law and we can discuss everything.  I have found that since divorce is such an emotional experience, adding a mental health professional as a coach to the team, is extremely valuable.

The coach or coaches will notice and respond to your inevitable ups and downs during meetings and, if necessary, between meetings.

Using a coach or coaches makes everyone’s communication more effective, makes the meetings more efficient and contributes to a better resolution.

This allows me to concentrate on what I do best, while making sure that your emotional needs are being attended to.


Practice Tip #4: Handling ‘Push Back’ from Client When Recommending a Coach or Coaches

Handling ‘Push Back’ from Client When Recommending a Coach or Coaches

Expect – and be prepared for – the difficult questions

What happens when you mention adding a mental health professional to your client as a coach or communications facilitator?

Do you hear, “We tried therapy and it didn’t work! or ‘I have my own therapist. I don’t need to pay for another one’ or even ‘I’m not sick, I’m just getting divorced?”

Distinguish therapy from coaching:

  • Educate the client about the unique role a coach can play, whether it is the single, neutral coach or the two coach approach.
  • Inform the client how the coach focuses on the present in order to plan for the future.

What you might say:

“You will need a lot of support to move through this process in a thoughtful, deliberate way, especially when emotions run hot. I’ve found that the coach can enhance a client’s ability to listen carefully, to communicate effectively and to learn problem-solving skills.”

Does your client then say, “We can’t afford to pay another professional?”

Here’s what you can say:

“In my experience, having the expertise of the coach at the meeting and between meetings is less expensive than using me – your lawyer – to sort out emotionally driven issues.”


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