Since becoming a Master Credential collaborative lawyer in March, my collaborative business has definitely increased. For whatever reason—knowledge of the collaborative option; couples seeking to avoid the cost, financial and otherwise, of litigation—I see more clients aware of and open to collaboration than ever before. Several have pointed to my credential as a distinguishing factor in their choice to employ me and my firm. Simply put, the credential matters.
The impact of client awareness regarding credentialing is two-fold: it gets them in the door and it sets me apart from other attorneys. Recently, a client came in inquiring about collaborative divorce as she had seen our write up in D Magazine; the credential made an impression. At our consult, we spoke about the necessary requirements to earn a credential, rooted in specific collaborative training as well as extensive involvement in collaborative cases. This put the client at ease regarding my ability to handle her case collaboratively. Another client leaning toward collaborative got onboard upon hearing the specifics required for certification; it also led her to an important question, “How can I get my husband to a good collaborative attorney?” I stressed the importance of ideally hiring a credentialed collaborative attorney to reach the best result for all involved. In her discussion with her husband she could point to a gold standard, an achievable marker that few attorneys have achieved—the credential—to find the best attorney to collaborate toward a successful outcome for their family.
In addition to client awareness, several of my peers, family as well as other specializations, have noticed my credential, whether in D Magazine or Dallas Bar Association’s Headnotes and remarked on it. When asked, I share the rigors of obtaining the Master Credential which educates my colleagues about the differences in skill level of those who are credentialed. Being credentialed gives me a reason to talk about the differences. Because collaborative divorce is diametrically opposed to the litigation model, it requires on the part of the attorney a complete paradigm shift to embrace the process fully. Extensive training and experience, then, are paramount to positive outcomes. Collaboration was not what we learned in law school.
With client awareness and attorney recognition, as we continue to collaborate with encouraging outcomes, word of mouth regarding the quantifiable advantages of hiring credentialed collaborative attorneys will begin to speak volumes. It’s already happening. The endorsement of the credential by way of clients who have come through a divorce and emerged in one piece on the other side is incalculable. And frankly, I am most content working with another credentialed attorney. We exist on the same page and speak the same language; we understand how to utilize the neutrals and our unique position as team players. We do not drag litigation tactics into the collaborative arena, as we know it is anathema to the process. Certifying attorneys who possess the expert training, extensive experience, and personal makeup to work collaboratively will have an enormously positive impact on the collaborative process moving forward. Obtaining the credential, especially the Master Credential, will inevitably drive collaborative business to the lawyer’s door. I am confident it has to mine.