Hi-yah! It’s the Northern Lights Ninjas

When you find yourself in a room with 80 people, it’s not even 10am and you’re all playing a children’s party game, it can mean only one thing: it’s the annual Northern Lights conference, and definitely not your average Friday. 
This year’s event in York - our eighth annual conference - saw around 80 collaborative lawyers, mediators and family professionals gather for a day of ‘thinking outside the box’, with a range of fantastic speakers running workshops on this theme. 
And so it was that a room full of family professionals found themselves standing in circles, playing ninjas, thanks to psychotherapist Andrew Pearce, who returned following last year’s impressive opening workshop to deliver more of his innovative thinking to delegates. And it worked: having gone into the conference with a head full of everything I ‘should’ be doing, I quickly found myself thinking very differently (mostly how to move fast enough to keep my place in the ninja circle!). 
Once the overall ninja warrior had been crowned, it was down to the business of the day. With workshops on thinking creatively about problem solving; prioritising our own health and wellbeing in order to best help our clients; navigating impasse in round table discussions; preparing clients for collab; successfully bringing other professionals into the divorce process; or exploring the moral and ethical issues around the newly launched Divorce Hotel, we were spoiled for choice.
The rest of the day unfolded with interactive sessions and lively discussion. Brighton-based family lawyer Jo O’Sullivan delivered a workshop packed with energy and humour, where delegates were encouraged to chip in with comments, ideas and suggestions around running a successful collaborative family practice, no matter how ‘off the wall’ they may seem.  
It was incredibly valuable to see the benefits of peer supervision in action with Chris Mills, and hear the success Mary Shaw and Brian Cantwell have enjoyed by working together: examples of real life cases where clients have benefited hugely from a family consultant’s involvement. 
A lot of delegates benefited from hearing from the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP), understanding more about how it works and how the team in Yorkshire is actively seeking to work outside the court system.
And I can’t mention the conference without a shout out for Collaborative Family Law Week. Running for the second year, we were very happy to see so many people and firms getting behind the initiative again this year, sharing the CFL North blogs and helping us create a buzz on social media about collab. 
All in all, these activities provided a real shot in the arm: a reminder that there is still a community of people out there with the will and drive to do things differently. The conference buzz lasted from morning registration well into the evening networking in the bar - always a sign of a successful event. 
From the feedback we’ve had, it definitely ranks as one of the best Northern Lights conferences yet. The bar is high for 2018!
Brighter Future