Last night I attended the board meeting for our state umbrella group for collaborative practice here in Maryland. As you might know, Maryland recently enacted its version of the Uniform Collaborative Practice Act. The Act went into effect October 1, 2014. The Rules Committee has just sent proposed rules for collaborative practice to the Court of Appeals for approval. They will probably go into effect by the end of the year. As a result of those two actions, we all anticipate that more professionals will want to be trained in collaborative law. Great, right? Well, not so fast. Our last statewide basic 3 day training, which was offered for free by our Administrative Office of the Courts, had less than 60 attendees. Next Friday, we have an all day advanced skills training; it's not yet full. What to do to get more people to train in collaborative practice? At the meeting, we brainstormed. Many folks thought that in person trainings are passe. Young professionals are technologically oriented; they prefer webinars. There is a lot of pressure on professionals doing more in less time; young professionals are being pushed to meet billing goals. Taking 1 or 2 days out of the office is too much time. What if we did webinars? What if we had video replays? Could they be the solution? Let's back up a minute, shall we? How is participating in a 1-2 days webinar or video replay different from being somewhere in person? Oh, that's right, if you're there in person you have to be completely present and participatory. If you're there remotely, you can still work on other things, like say, work for clients, and not really pay full attention. Cost was also cited as a reason for remote classes. I'll give them that, as even though you still have to
Obviously, the conversation disturbed me on many levels. First, collaborative law is supposed to be a mindful, intensely personal practice involving a lot of interpersonal skills. How do you develop those interpersonal skills if you're not around people? Second, collaborative practice involves an entirely different way of approaching conflict and cases. How effective is that training going to be if you're not really completely present for it? Third, collaborative involves a lot of training in new skills. The governing body for collaborative practice (IACP) is going to shorten the mandatory training requirement from 3 to 2 days. As a trainer, I can tell you that what is going to get lost are the role plays and the demonstrations. Instead of 3 days where participants can hear, see and do, they will have 2 days of listening. How is a 2 day training like that, much less a 2 day remote training going to help people learn skills? Fourth, training remotely or by webinar feels like the purpose of the training is just to say you did it, as opposed to actually embracing and learning how to practice collaboratively. Just my $.02. Here in the Trenches.