'If you build it, they will come'

There’s a lot with collaborative law that’s linked with belief. In yourself, in the process, in your opposite number and in your clients. My own personal belief is that if you genuinely want to build a successful collaborative practice, and focus on making it happen, then it will happen.
Believe in yourself
Just because you aren’t getting many cases now, don’t give up. There are, without question, many, many people for whom a collaborative divorce will work and deliver a better outcome. Use your training to identify those people, and then build the confidence to suggest a collaborative approach. 
Whatever your doubts and fears, there is no question that someone in your position will have had those same ones. Lean on your pod, share some of them and as well as a sympathetic ear, I bet you’ll hear stories that will help allay your fears. 
The more we share successes with each other, the more confidence and belief we will build within the collaborative community. It’s why events like the Northern Lights conference, Collaborative Family Law Week and others are so important.
Believe in your opposite number
If you approach a collaborative case in the same way you would a traditional case, you are setting yourself up to fail. It’s so important that you and the opposing solicitor don’t view each other as ‘opponents’ and instead start from a point of mutual trust. You have to believe that they will be open, and will work with you, as you will with them. Any collaboratively trained solicitor should share this mindset of belief and trust, and it is key to a successful outcome.
Believe in your clients
It’s equally important that you believe that your clients want to do this, that they want a more constructive approach. And be rigorous in your assessment of whether or not they are right for the process. 
Make sure they know from the outset that they will need to listen, to be open, be prepared to compromise and consider things they may not have thought of. And once they have committed to the process, believe in them to see it through to a constructive outcome.
Believe in the process
I have clients who come to me specifically because I am a collaborative lawyer, or because their ex’s lawyer has sent them. Awareness is building, but it isn’t a quick win. I genuinely believe that collaborative law offers a better way, and that more cases could be resolved collaboratively than are at present. 
My own personal goal is a caseload that is at least 50% collaborative. Ten years down the line and I’m not there yet, but I believe that I will get there. Keep the faith! 

Stephen Root is a director in the family department at Berwins Solicitors in Harrogate. 
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