At the March 2015 Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council Annual Meeting, Attorney Emily Weber was elected to the organization’s Board of Directors, along with Linda Cohan, MSW, CSC, Attorney Jeffrey Fink, and Cathy Heenan, Ed.D. Emily looks forward to continuing her work with the organization in further developing the practice of Collaborative Law in Massachusetts. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, Emily was named Chair of the Advanced Training Subcommittee for 2015-2016. Emily is joined on the subcommittee by Attorneys Patrice Brymner and Karen Levitt, and Dr. Allison Bell, Psy.D. Emily also continues as Co-Chair of the Tri-River Practice Group with Karen Levitt.
On May 1, 2015, MCLC’s Advanced Training Subcommittee hosted an Advanced Training Forum, “Money Talks: What Does it Say & What Does it Really Mean?” In addition to working with the rest of the subcommittee to organize the Forum, Emily also co-presented a workshop at the Forum.
Karen Levitt recently had an article published by the American Bar Association (ABA) in June 2015 regarding Access to Collaboration. As Chair of the IACP Access to Collaboration Task Force, and as a member of the MCLC Access to Collaboration Ad Hoc Committee, Karen has been very active this year in looking at how to bring Collaborative Law to clients of no, low, or modest means. See the ABA article at Karen’s Dispute Resolution Article.
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP)”, www.collaborativepractice.com, earlier this year invited Collaborative practitioners from around the world to join IACP in a year long conversation about Collaborative Law and to help envision its future for clients and professionals alike. IACP called its initiative “The Year of Listening”, and Collaborative practitioners have been able to participate in a number of ways including facilitated calls with IACP board members. Karen Levitt as an IACP board member was a co-facilitator on several calls, including with Collaborative practitioners from Brazil and Canada. IACP’s “Year of Listening” has been a great way to share information, challenges, and ideas amongst Collaborative professionals around the world, many of whom will be attending IACP’s annual conference which is being held in Washington, D.C. this October.
The Washington, D.C. conference, which is from October 15 – 18, 2015, is a special one this year. The IACP is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Collaborative Practice, and Karen is honored to be part of the programming for the conference. Karen will be part of two workshops. Karen will be the facilitator of a workshop entitled “A Mosaic: Pro Bono and Low Bono Access to Collaboration around the World”, with presenters from the United States (Maryland and New York), Canada (Vancouver), and Israel. The workshop will provide participants with the ability to learn from different and international perspectives about program design (whether a formal or informal Access to Collaboration program), screening, and the benefits and challenges to be anticipated when creating an Access to Collaboration program. Karen with her Massachusetts colleague Dr. Gina Arons, Psy.D, will be presenting a workshop entitled “When the Clients and the Team Collide: Whose Case is it Anyway?”. Karen and Gina have worked together on many Collaborative Law Cases, and will be sharing their experiences and teaching participants about best practices.
On May 8, 2015, Karen presented with Susan Miller, CPA, of Aurora Financial Services, Wellesley, MA, and Dr. Sanford M. Portnoy, Ph.D., at the very first Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council Support Staff Workshop. The workshop attendees were paralegals, legal assistants, receptionists and other legal support staff who are often the first contact a client has with a law office and the Collaborative Law process.
Karen and her colleagues presentation was entitled “Working with Collaborative Professionals,” and focused on teaching support staff the “rhythm” of a Collaborative case, including pre-briefs, debriefs, and how support staff can work best with the Collaborative professionals in a case particularly around scheduling and meeting preparation. The role of the coach was also discussed including how emotionality in divorce is handled differently in the Collaborative Law process compared to other legal processes. Both of Karen’s legal assistants, Jackie and Paula, attended. The workshop was a great success!
On April 16, 2015, Karen Levitt and Emily Weber from the Levitt Law Group, and Jeanmarie Papelian (formerly of the McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton Professional Association), organized and co-facilitated a joint meeting of the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire and two Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council practice groups, the Northern Massachusetts Practice Group and the Tri-River Practice Group. Entitled “Ethics Café” and held at the McLane law firm’s Woburn, MA office, Collaborative practitioners from both jurisdictions considered four ethical questions and had a lively discussion about them all!
Emily A. Weber, Karen J. Levitt, and Lynn L. Cooper, Ed.D, have been selected by the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council to present at its May 1, 2015 Advanced Training Forum, “Money Talks: “What Does it Say & What Does It Really Mean?”.
The presentation Emily, Karen and Lynn will be giving is entitled “Societal Expectations and Life Experiences Colliding in Monetary Negotiations,” and will focus on the impact of societal expectations on how we think, and how we expect others to think, about money, as well as the effect of these expectations on actual negotiations.
Andrea Wells and Karen Levitt continue to do Guardian ad Litem work, and have just completed their annual mandatory Category F Guardian ad Litem (GAL) training. The course was Investigating Non-Traditional Families, and was highly informative.
As an attorney, in order to be a Category F Guardian ad Litem, you must have at least three years of experience in the domestic relations field in the Probate and Family Court, including divorce, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, alimony and contempt cases; undergo additional training of at least three hours per year; and agree to take at least one Court-paid GAL appointment each year. Between them, Karen and Andrea estimate they have acted as a Guardian ad Litem in over 125 Court-appointed cases and private cases! Serving as a Guardian ad Litem is an important part of our work and continues to be a rewarding area of practice.
Karen Levitt has been honored by being selected as an AV Preeminent lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, which is Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer review rating in legal ability and ethical standards. For more information go to www.martindate.com/ratings .
Karen has also been selected for the 5th year in a row as one of the Best Lawyers in America and appeared in their 2014 edition, see www.bestlawyers.com. Finally, Karen has been selected as a “ Super Lawyer” in the area of Family Law in 2014-New England. This selection is made as a result of nomination by peers, third party research, and a further review process. For more information go to www.superlawyers.com
The Levitt Law Group participated for another year in the Salisbury Santa program sponsored by Elder Services of Merrimack Valley.
Andrea Wells, Emily Weber, Jackie Leonardo, and Paula Dumont, along with our independent bookkeeper Gloria Makarevich, with the support of Karen Levitt and the Levitt Law Group, purchased Christmas items for a little boy and two little girls that will be distributed as part of the Salisbury Santa program. Paula and Gloria were our gift wrappers extraordinaire, as you can see! Our entire staff enjoys doing this, and we have participated now for a number of years. Thank you everyone for making the holiday a little better for some of our families in the Merrimack Valley.
Karen was a guest lecturer at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, MA in November, where she spoke about Collaborative Law to a group of second and third year law students.
Karen was invited to speak by Paula Kaldis, Esq., Professor of Law, and Assistant Dean of the law school. The law school course, entitled “Collaborative and Alternative Justice”, focused on the theory, practice, and skills of law as a helping or healing profession. Students studied developments in the legal profession that provided alternatives to the adversarial process, such as Collaborative Law in divorce. Many of these alternatives to the traditional court process, like Collaborative Law, are interdisciplinary, and the focus on problem solving and resolution rather than “the fight”. The students in the course came from many diverse backgrounds and professions before attending law school, and participated in a lively discussion with Karen about Collaborative Law and conflict resolution, not just in family law but in civil, criminal, and even international practice! It was great to see the interest and excitement of the law students in talking about bringing different models of conflict resolution to their future legal endeavors.