Origins of Collaborative Practice in Boulder

May 3, 2018

Collaborative practice arrived in Boulder in 2003, after a group of lawyers heard Pauline Tesler, a leading proponent for collaborative practice in California, speak in Denver. After hearing her, a group of legal, mediation and mental health professionals formed the Collaborative Law Professionals of Boulder County.

Our goal was to give every divorcing couple a choice in how to divorce, and to include a collaborative approach in the range of available options. Because this is a different way for professionals to approach their clients’ divorce, we knew we needed more training. So we started monthly practice group meetings, which continue to this day, in which we discuss ways to help our clients negotiate more effectively and get better divorce outcomes.

Evolution of Collaborative Divorce

Over time, we have refined our technique. At first, lawyers many times did not involve mental health and financial professionals in their collaborative cases. This approach, while consistent with the traditional, lawyer-led representation of clients in traditional divorce representation, was found to not be the best way to handle the typical collaborative divorce. We learned that a better, cost-effective approach is to bring in a neutral collaborative divorce facilitator (CDF) and neutral financial (NP) professional at the very beginning of the case. Key to these professionals’ roles in the case is their neutrality, which puts them in a position to speak necessary truths to the divorcing couple and their lawyers, while freeing the lawyers to truly represent their clients.

A Better Identity

Because our group comprises not only lawyers, but also mediators, mental health professionals and financial professionals who fulfill these valuable and necessary functions in a collaborative divorce, we changed our name.

By Daryl James, Attorney At Law

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