Attorney Karen J. Levitt was selected to be a presenter at two different workshops at the October 25-28, 2018 Annual Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP).
The theme of this year’s conference is “Collaborative Creativity” in divorce and family law. The conference is being held in Seattle, Washington. Attendance is by attorneys, financial, mental health and other collaborative professionals from countries around the world who practice in divorce and family law.
Each party must complete a financial statement form and file with the Court to get divorced in Massachusetts – it’s required. Yet the financial statement form comes with little if any instructions. While most clients and their attorneys hate these forms because they’re time consuming and painful to complete, learning why the form is necessary and how it’s used may make you love (or at least not hate) the form! Here goes:
The Court financial statement form incorporates the concept of full disclosure of income, assets, expenses, and liabilities. Why? Because in divorce you are dividing or reallocating income, assets, expenses and liabilities, and can’t do so without knowing what those are. The Court financial statement form that each party completes, lays it all out there for both parties to see. This allows the Court to be sure that the parties have a shared understanding of their finances, and to determine if an agreement with respect to those finances is fair and reasonable.
Attorney Karen J. Levitt and her colleagues psychologist Gina Arons, Psy.D and Attorney Patrice Brymner, have been selected by the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council (“MCLC”) to present one of the four workshops at the MCLC 2018 Collaborative Practice Forum: Collaborative Leadership: Modeling Collaborative Values In Business, Life And Community, which is scheduled for April 27, 2018 at the Four Points Sheraton, Norwood, MA. Entitled “Navigating Leadership: The Rough Seas of Family Business & Divorce”, the workshop addresses how the Collaborative Law process can be used to help couples who have a family business navigate not just their divorce, but the division of the business and the running of the business both during and after divorce. Addressing family businesses in divorce not only may require a complex financial analysis, but the issue of leadership of the business to ensure its continuation post-divorce can be a challenge. The conference is attended by attorneys, financial professionals, and mental health professionals. Attorney Karen J. Levitt is excited to be part of this exciting conference!
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.
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.
Many of you may know that my mother, who is a retired college Art History professor and an incredibly fine artist (some of her work adorns our office and much of it my home), has designed all of my office holiday cards for many years. Each design for each year’s card is hand drawn by my mother before being incorporated into the holiday card. My mother is now 87, and did this year’s card too!
I have had many wonderful responses from clients and business associates to my mother’s holiday cards. In a world where everything sometimes feels too much the “same”, having a holiday card that is personal and unique each year has been an important component of how our office sees itself, in striving to provide personal services to each of our clients for their individual and unique needs.
One of my mother’s past cards featured a lion and a lamb – this holiday card appears with this blog. A client of mine was particularly taken with this holiday card, and told me that the card spoke to him. When asked what he meant by that, he said he saw the dichotomy between the lion and the lamb – to use his words, clients and/or attorneys can be “reasonable”, or they can be “strong” in their approach to a case and resolution. He didn’t see the holiday card as depicting ferocious vs. fearful, or even peaceful co-existence, but rather as representative of the two personas of what clients are “buying” from attorneys—and that creation of a balance makes for the best resolution. The client felt the card was simple but had a richness to it, and that its message resonated with him while going through the experience of divorce, as he sought a reasonable approach for all involved backed by the (lion’s) strength when appropriate.
Clients speak in many powerful ways if you listen. In thinking about my client’s comment regarding the holiday card, I realized how important it was for him to not just have legal representation and an advocate, but also to have representation and advocacy that comes with understanding and compassion and balance. It isn’t always so easy – and perhaps some clients want just the lion! However, divorce is not one-sided – there are always two parties with different needs and interests. Considering not just your own needs and interests, but those of the other party, and taking a balanced approach almost always results in a better negotiation and outcome.
Divorce is difficult and painful. We all know that. Yet you and your attorney don’t have to be solely lions or (the more passive) lambs. Out of court dispute resolution processes such as mediation and Collaborative Law, often provide a better environment and approach for bringing both the lion and the lamb “to the table” in the same room at the same time. Try it. You might find that the lion won’t eat you, and the lamb won’t get eaten. Instead, you will have a good balance for reaching a settlement that you, and your children and/or family, can live with and with which you can find peace — which is, after all, the message that comes with a holiday card.
Copyright 2014, Karen J. Levitt, all rights reserved.
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.
Attorney Emily Weber has been named as Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council’s Advanced Training Committee with Clinical Psychologist Gina Arons for 2014-2015.
Emily is excited to join Dr. Arons and the other committee members, Certified Financial Planner Jessie Foster, and Attorneys Dawn Effron, Cynthia Runge, Vicki Shemin, and Karen Levitt, in organizing trainings, workshops, and presentations for Collaborative Law Professionals interested in developing their Collaborative Law skills and building the Collaborative Law community. In May of 2014, MCLC’s Advanced Training Committee organized a widely successful workshop on “The Power of Expectations in Conflict Resolution: Managing Multiple Mindsets.” Congratulations Emily!