Why am I so passionate about marketing collaborative practice? When I was seven, my parents divorced. My mother loaded us kids into the van and moved us three thousand miles away. I never saw my father again.
I don’t want to see that happen to other children . . . to other families. I discovered the collaborative dispute resolution process as an alternative to the conventional courtroom divorce back in 2002. It costs less and it takes less time. The couple makes the decisions, not some judge who doesn’t know them or their kids, or share their values. And, perhaps most importantly, it protects the couple’s relationships with the people they care about: their children, their friends, their neighbors . . . and, yes, their soon-to-be-ex.
But you can’t collaborate by yourself, and not many were doing it at that time in Tampa, Florida. So I didn’t work on another collaborative case until 2009.
I am now working on my fortieth collaborative matter, a whopping big number for a collaborative divorce lawyer.
So why am I so passionate about marketing this concept? Because I can’t change the way the world gets divorced all by myself. Because changing America’s divorce culture requires mass effort.
Your Success Is My Success
And also because your success is my success – in many ways, collaboration controverts competition. Every collaborative lawyer is a potential referral source who might send the other spouse to me in his or her divorce matter. If Adam in Tampa convinces his consult that the collaborative process is right for her divorce and her family, he may then have the opportunity to refer her husband to several collaborative lawyers, and one of those lawyers will be me. And then we two lawyers will wrap in the other collaborative team professionals, if the clients haven’t already chosen them.
The other day, I was interviewed on a television program, Great Day, Louisiana, for my opinions about the potential for a cultural shift to a four-day workweek. Of course, I mentioned collaborative practice, because that’s what I’m all about and because it’s a part of every conversation I have. A few days later, I got a phone call from a gal in New Orleans who wanted to know if I had an office there. When I admitted that I did not, she asked me to refer her to a collaborative divorce lawyer in Louisiana. And, of course, I did that.
So, in collaboration, we aren’t competitors; we are teammates. And it is crucial for all of us to market collaborative practice, to teach others that there is a kinder, gentler way to divorce, that they don’t have to go to court.
Specialize In Your Passion
After all, what is marketing? Are you afraid to market your collaborative practice? Are you fearful of coming across like a used car salesman?
Don’t be. Marketing is merely educating others. Think of it as teaching potential clients, referral sources, collaborative cohorts, and the public what you do and why you do it.
Specializing in your passion won’t limit your work; it will increase it. Sure, a lot of people are under the impression that, just because I swapped the proud “Trial Attorney” sign in front of my building for a cheerful self-portrait and an upbeat sign that says, “Open Palm,” instead, that I no longer offer litigation services. But, because of my prominent profile and my solid credibility, I still get the phone calls.
Clients still seek me out for trial work when they are unable to convince their spouses to choose collaboration because they trust me, before we even meet, because of my credibility and my profile in the community here. But I get numerous referrals from outside Florida, as well, for the same reasons.
My favorite example of how this works is the Nude Realtor, who doesn’t just sell homes to or for nudists. But she specializes in and is known for that peculiar expertise, so she signs more clients who are buying and selling all kinds of homes because of it.
Why now, though? During lockdown?
Carpe Diem! Why not? There is no time like the present. Make lemonade out of those lemons. Now’s the time to focus on marketing, especially if your business has been slowed by quarantine. This blog series will acquaint you with what you should be doing now so that you are ready to become a Collaborative Champion once the quarantine ends.
You’re a Champion, Champ!
Why is it important to be a Champion anyway? Champions attract the clients we all want, clients who know that they want to design their own separation agreements, who want to successfully co-parent their children after divorce, and who are willing to pay, within reason, for a “good divorce, a better, kinder divorce.” Champions receive more referrals from other professionals and from former clients. They receive them from first responders of all professions and trades. Champions enjoy a greater sense of clarity and purpose in their visions of themselves and of their staff. Champions are asked to join other collaborative teams and other collaborate presenters. Champions are invited to speak about what they do, and they write about it, as well.
Champions in the collaborative process develop and then continually strengthen specific core characteristics, five fortes:
How do you become a Champion? Know this. . . there is plenty of room for you to be a Champion in this burgeoning practice area. We all look forward to that tipping point when John Q. Public knows his divorce process options already and knows to ask for a collaborative divorce the minute he walks up to the lawyer’s receptionist. But the good news is that there are plenty of openings in the collaborative field that are just begging for someone who is excited about this innovative practice area to step in and fill. And there is no reason at all that that person can’t be you.