Skip to content

LAWYERS LEAVING LITIGATION PRACTICES FOR COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE AND MEDIATION

October 11, 2011

Part three in an ongoing series by David Kuroda on CHILD CUSTODY ISSUES: AVOIDING TRIAL, HELP FOR FAMILY LAW JUDICIAL OFFICERS RESPONSES TO ELKINS REFORMS AND THE ECONOMY

Seldom did a week go by that I didn’t get a call from an attorney, asking about employment as a mediator with the court. Litigation in family law is tough on attorneys. A surprisingly high number, nearly 40%, of attorneys surveyed said they would have chosen a different profession had they know what lawyers actually did, five years after law school.

In recent years, I’ve heard a number of attorneys proudly announce they no longer litigate cases; their days at the courthouse are over; they will only provide mediation and collaborative divorce. The badge of honor for family law attorneys is increasingly being given to those who resolve cases, not to those who “only win.” Prominent attorneys have left big law firms to focus on collaborative divorce and mediation. Other high profile firms are expanding the range of their services to include Collaborative Divorce. The recession has been reducing the number of dissolutions, and the harsh realities of the economy may nudge people to seek less expensive means of getting divorced.

ALTERNATE MEANS LESS DESIRABLE; HOW ABOUT CONSENSUAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION (CDR)?

Alternate has a hallow ring to it. Commuters cringe when we hear traffic advisories telling us about “alternate” routes. We prefer being on the main highway. During competitions, those not selected for the team are often listed as “alternates,” in case the winners can’t participate. In family law, only a small percentage of cases actually require a trial. It may be more accurate to describe the trials as final alternatives, and elevate other ways of resolving cases as dispute resolution, eliminating the word “alternate.”

The State Bar has approved the change in the ADR committee to the ADR/CDR Committee. Under the leadership of Fern Salka and Wendy Landes, the Consensual Dispute Resolution (CDR) committee has continued to advocate for resolving disputes outside the courtroom. Wendy recently resigned after many years serving as the co-chair. She was replaced by Sharon Kianfar, from the Law and Mediation Office of Heidi Tuffias.

Last month the State Bar’s CDR Committee (South), along with the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Center for Civic Mediation, A Better Divorce (A group of South Bay Collaborative Divorce Professionals) and the Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association (LACFLA),sponsored a program, “Divorce in the 21st Century: Understanding the Expanding Role of Mental Health Professionals.” Over 120 attorneys, mental and financial professionals attended. The latest ways of getting divorced were presented. In addition to promoting new roles for mental health professionals, the program sought to educate the therapists about the latest developments in divorce law and knowing about attorneys who want to help parties get divorced without going to court.

Mr. Kuroda is the former Division Chief, Family Court Services, Superior Court of Los Angeles and directed the Mediation and Conciliation Service, the first and largest court mediation program in the nation. In his 18 years with the Superior Court.

In addition to directing the program, he has personally provided mediation services to over 8,000 families, and has made presentations on collaborative divorce, mediation and divorce to numerous groups of attorneys and mental health professionals. He is a member of A Better Divorce, LAWCDP, the LA Collaborative Family Law Association, and CDRC. He serves on the Family Law Executive Committee, LA County Bar Association. He was recognized by the National Association of Social Workers, NASW, California, with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003; he was honored for his contributions to help establish Collaborative Divorce by Collaborative Practice California; in 2007 with the George Nickel Award, California Social Welfare Archives.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: