This coming Friday and Saturday, August 7th and 8th, 2020 is the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”) Annual Conference. Naturally, and following in line with other conferences in the United States, the decision was made to have the conference in a virtual setting. As a fellow of the FACP Inaugural Leadership Institute, I have the distinct honor of being a presenter for one of the workshops at the Conference. I am so grateful for this opportunity and being selected to represent the Collaborative Family Law Group of Northeast Florida.
A couple of years ago, I never dreamed I would be in this position. Going through a divorce myself, I made the decision to become a family law practitioner. Of course, this was much later in life. I never had any children, but the process was still agonizing. I remember how frustrated I would become when I did not hear from my attorney. I promised myself that when I began practicing family law, my clients would hear from me regularly, so they know that they matter. I also remember how bitter I was and wanted to “destroy” my Former Husband. As I sat across the desk from my attorney at the time, I will never forget him telling me that “I would be fine” and will look back on this as a distant memory. At the time, I could not even fathom being in this mind set. I was grieving and wondering how I would get through this and survive. Now, I get it…
When I first started practicing family law, I loved litigating and empowering my clients to “take down” their spouse. After a while, I began to hate it. The stress was destroying me. I would see families torn apart. More importantly, I saw the children suffering because the parties were seeking to destroy the other at all costs to win. I experienced this growing up when my father left our family. It was one of the worst memories of my life. The sad thing is, in litigation, no one wins.
I happened upon Collaborative Law in a soul-searching exercise to find some other way to practice Family Law. I had never heard of it and was truly fascinated. I found a group in my area, became involved, and was subsequently selected to be a Fellow in the Leadership Institute. The Leadership Institute was created to teach leadership skills to the fellows selected and connect us with the broader collaborative community. Being a Fellow of the Leadership Institute has been such an amazing experience and has furthered my passion in focusing on Collaborative Law. It is a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by like minded professionals who want to pivot away from typical Family Law litigation. I have made friends and connections with fellow Collaborative Professionals from all over Florida and Canada. I also learned a lot about myself during both Institute Trainings held in Orlando in May and September, especially after taking the Myers-Briggs Test to discover I was a ENFJ’s who are considered to be interpersonally adept, understanding, tolerant, appreciative and facilitators of good communication. A Collaborative Professional? Absolutely! An bull-dog litigator? Not so much, and I am fine with that, as it further solidifies why I am finally at peace with where I am in my life.