The Treasurers Report is one that speaks to ambition. I would like to say that we have a known source of inflows that are, not only sufficient to meet the operating needs of the organization, but also always available to further the Collaborative process. However, I cannot say this without pointing out the challenges in locating potential sources of income. The committed professionals, on the Board and other contributing members, have currently been able to achieve thought-out objectives, although much more could have been accomplished if these resources were available.
You will find the hand out which is a year by year analysis from 2015 through 2019. I’ve highlighted where increases occurred during the past few years, primarily marketing. The Trustees over the past couple of years have searched actively to find sources to fund marketing efforts, with amounts coming from two primary sources, the “Make A Difference” campaign and banner ads, which represent the “Fund Raising” increases in 2018 and 2019.
The main funding sources of our organization comes from membership, in not only dues, but the bulk of the fundraising efforts. You may have even included in your budget for this year’s conference, not only the cost of the conference, travel and hotel accommodations, but also the cost of one hour of your billing time. We certainly rely on, and appreciate, your continual support.
Philosopher Alfred Montapert once stated: “Do not confuse motion and progress”. As a 501c3, we have an opportunity to go to the public to ask for donations to further our cause. It is certainly a challenge to ask for money for divorce, competing against the likes of organizations asking for dollars for health falling issues or societal misfortunes, among many others. Is there a way to present a message that encourages people to want to support the Collaborative way of dispute resolution, beyond us?
How does the public learn of the Collaborative approaches and make a clear distinguished choice regarding the preferred method of divorce? And should it only be known to those going through a divorce or, why not widely accepted public knowledge? Does the public know that, one can go a route where, there are such events as temporary orders, production requests, interrogatories, motions to compel, depositions, dueling professionals, trials and hearings with third party decision makers; whereas another route has participation agreements, goals and interests, rules of conduct, roadmaps to resolution, option generating, emphasis on confidentiality, neutral professionals, occurs outside of court, and with client-based outcomes.
Many times, costs factor into these decisions. However, even today some debate which action is costlier. It may seem somewhat obvious that the Collaborative process will incur less costs but is there strong empirical evidence for support that is also generally accepted.
Everyone essentially follows the same set rules. Without going through a divorce in a parallel environment, it’s difficult proving one as superior over another. Do we get contributions from individuals that went through the Collaborative process? Very few. Maybe they weren’t asked, feel depleted, want to move on, or, without knowing the alternative, wouldn’t understand or appreciate the requested reason to donate. And wouldn’t it be nice to come across another individual like T. Boone Pickens.
There also seems to be a source of funding nearby, with the many legal professionals that have not embraced the Collaborative process, which would bring with them more financial and mental health neutrals. My personal observations are that the system encourages the litigation process. It seems reasonable that an attorney in practice, having been educated in such steps of pleadings, discovery, complaints and answers, motions, trial with direct and cross examination, closing arguments, possible appeal,
…, the list goes on, would want to practice their learned skills based on this invested time and energy. How does the Collaborate process compare in this regard.
What is true is that both sides abide by similar rules, as many Collaborative matters delve into the realm of “what would happen in court”, and it’s not uncommon to end up in mediation, similar to litigation. So, as we try to emphasize our differences, ironically, there are many similarities.
With our Global Partner’s affiliation with IACP, it is an opportunity to incorporate successes from practices in other jurisdictions and would be a measure of progress if we were able to adopt such widely agreed upon successes. With limitations, it may just be wishful thinking.
Let’s look at the event that occurs in San Antonio in August. Do you ever ask yourself, why do so many individuals attend Advanced Family Law compared to the participants attending here? It’s my understanding that for the Spring Conference, there were over 10,000 brochures sent out to attorneys, and an eblast to over 75,000 attorneys. So, Collaborative is no secret, at least not among this group, although numbers for the Spring Conference average 150, which includes many non-attorneys. To some, and many here, Collaborative as a calling; others refer to it as another service line.
My experience is that the Advanced Family Law event is humming with individuals clamoring for information that is interpreted as the place be to advance one’s practice and career. Many papers are written based on past court rulings and their interpreted applications, stemming from the litigation process. If there are concepts that are introduced to change the nature of the practice of Family Law, it appears to come from the side more closely aligned to litigation than from the side more closely aligned with Collaborative. In other words, the more attractive place is where the generation of ideas are put into practice.
Let’s look at the Family. Here is one area where members advocating for the Collaborative Process will stand with a strong voice and say this is where we prevail
over a litigious process. As such for the family and especially the children, Litigation bad, Collaborative good. The problem however is again in the evidence, which, as much as it may appear to be common sensical, is difficult to empirically locate. Does Collaborative outcomes truly advance our collective desires to preserve family unity or is adherence to a set of rules more pervasive.
I read a newspaper column by Jenni Lord, CEO of Chosen, a nonprofit that helps children heal from trauma by strengthening families, primarily by equipping the parents. She notes evidence of the deterioration of the family for the past 30 years, appearing in the damaging effects of illiteracy, homelessness, poverty, and crime. Mother Teresa once said, if you want to heal the world, start with family. It would be hard pressed to find resistance to this concept. Maybe the Collaborative process can find ways to team up with similarly mission based organizations to promote such holistic measures of encouraging family development.
To summarize, the Collaborative process could be more empowered with the following:
- Identify motivations to encourage more public support;
- Promote Collaborative in becoming proactive, rather than reactive,
- Illustrate the significance of Collaborative’s positive impact on family.
There are certainly many challenges ahead, including those from a financial perspective involving marketing and an aging website. With limited resources, focus is vital, and this group of professionals is committed to working through these issues.
Much of what you see that occurs from this and other Collaborative events stems from time and effort, not only from the Board members but certainly others in this room, much of what does not get publicly recognized but occurs unassumingly. Your continual encouragement and support are welcomed.
To close, it may have been safe to remain silent, maintain the status quo, and keep the peace. The Collaborative process deserves more. Frank Clark, noted Author, states “We find comfort among those who agree with us-growth among those who don’t.”
Consider each Collaborative event you encounter one of appreciation, of being attentive, and of recognition of value which not only advances the mission but helps with consistency of branding.
It’s been a good run and I express my gratitude for the privilege to serve as a member of the state board of trustees, most recently as treasurer, especially for your involvement and friendship.