Access to Collaboration - What's New? by Deirdre Severide, Irene King and Karen Levitt

by Guest Blogger May 20, 2016

The IACP Access to Collaboration Task Force is charged with administering the Access to Collaboration grant program and monitoring the progress of grant recipients, as well as collecting and disseminating to IACP members information about Access to Collaboration.

In addition to administering the grant program and being a conduit for the Collaborative community about Access to Collaboration, the Task Force is also charged with expanding outreach locally, nationally, and internationally; connecting with individuals or groups impacted by or who may impact Access to Collaboration, including courts and court personnel, law students and faculty, and organizations dedicated to access to justice, to facilitate incorporation of Access to Collaboration within the legal system; serving as a resource to professionals developing or working in existing programs; disseminating, maintaining and updating sample Access to Collaboration program materials; and recommending to the IACP Board other means to support Access to Collaboration.

Interest in Access to Collaboration has continued to grow, with an expanded focus that now includes pro bono, low bono, and modest means clients. Access to Collaboration is being explored in a variety of ways in many jurisdictions around the world, from those that are funded by the government, to those who have partnered with law schools or social service agencies, to those who have targeted specific populations that might benefit from the Collaborative process such as veterans, to providing clients in our own offices with affordable Collaborative Practice process options. There is so much creativity coming out of Access to Collaboration, by so many dedicated Collaborative practitioners!

IACP is in its 3rd year of awarding grants to support Access to Collaboration. In 2016, IACP provided $17,500 in grant monies to distribute for the purpose of encouraging the creation of new or nurturing existing Access to Collaboration programs that provide Collaborative Practice services to low income and modest means clients. The Task Force was thrilled to receive 17 applications from all over the world! Although all were worthy applicants, the Task Force awarded grant money to the following:


BC Collaborative Roster Society (“Roster Society”)

The Roster Society is a provincial organization in British Columbia and developed a pro bono Collaborative project in 2014. The project is underway and to date has successfully completed many files. The Roster Society has committed to using their pro bono model to train and support the Victoria, Namaimo and Sunshine Coast communities in British Columbia and will use the grant monies for this purpose. In addition, the Roster Society intends to modify their program to include a fixed fee Collaborative program.

Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida (“CFLG”)

CFLG, in conjunction with the Barry University Law School, supports the Barry Collaborative Family Law Clinic and provides pro bono Collaborative services to needy couples and families. The Clinic presents a unique opportunity for Collaborative professionals to train and mentor students and serve families in the program. CFLG also supports another program, The One Case Project, where Collaborative professionals agree to take one reduced fee case to provide Collaborative practice, including the full team model, to families with income of less than $100,000. In their own words, their programs are soaring!

Collaborative Law Association of the Rochester Area (“CLARA”)

CLARA is shortly launching the Access to Collaborative Law Program, wherein Collaborative professionals will provide full team Collaborative services to qualifying spouses and families for a reduced fee. They have partnered with the Foundation for Women’s Financial Education and will use the grant monies to support educating the public about their program and for administrative support.

Collaborative Project of Maryland (“CPM”)

In partnership with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, CPM has developed a time limited Collaborative project wherein eligible Pro Se parties are diverted from the court process at an early stage to resolve their matters in the Collaborative process. To date, CPM has received 26 referrals through the Baltimore City project and has completed or is working through the Collaborative process with 14 couples and families. CPM will use the grant monies for training on the streamlined process, administrative costs and materials.

Collaborative Project of D.C. (“CPDC”)

CPDC partners with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and specifically the Honourable John McCabe, to divert families from the court process to Collaborative Practice to achieve an out of court settlement. CPDC will use the grant monies for training professionals in their streamlined program and for marketing. CPDC strives to involve newly trained Collaborative professionals on their teams specifically to enable the new practitioners to gain experience.

Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project

This unique program provides a Collaborative Family Law Clinic for military families. Through a partnership with The Family Network, Mission United and The Collaborative Family Law Professionals of South Florida, this Project provides services to low and modest income veterans and their families. The pilot project will be conducted at the offices of the Legal Aid Service of Broward County, the Brief Therapy Institute at Nova Southeastern University and the offices of The Family Network in Davie, Florida. The mental health professionals will be marriage and family therapy masters and doctoral students from Nova Southeastern University. What a great way to give back to the veterans and their families!

Pro Bono Group of MNCP – Germany

MNCP is a network of collaboratively trained attorneys, coaches, financial and child experts in Munich. They are the largest Collaborative Practice Group in Germany and are starting a pro bono/low bono program to provide Access to Collaboration in Munich. They plan to garner additional support from the Dispute Resolution Centre of the University of Munich to create and develop their new program.

The Rackman Group

The Rackman Group is keen on developing Collaborative Practice as part of the Legal Aid Clinic Program in Israel. The Clinic offers free representation to women in both the civil courts and the religious courts; however, there is a need for alternate dispute resolution options, specifically the Collaborative process.  Their hope is that it will have a waterfall effect in promoting Collaborative Practice. They will use the grant monies for marketing, training, mentoring and administrative costs.


The Task Force will be communicating with grant recipients to hear more about them during the year, and to understand how the grant funds are helping them expand Access to Collaboration. The grant recipients as part of their grant acceptance, all agree to also share their experiences including materials with IACP, which incorporates some of those materials as part of its resource bank. Members who are interested should explore what IACP offers on the website for Access to Collaboration.

The Task Force will be doing a phone bridge this September - keep an eye out for the notice about the program, the Task Force invites you all to participate. There is also going to be a 3 hour Access to Collaboration workshop at the 2016 Forum in Lake Las Vegas that will build on last year’s workshop and also look at modest means cases not just pro and low bono. This will be of interest not just to those who are starting or who already have Access to Collaboration programs in progress, but to Collaborative practitioners who want to learn more about providing services to clients in their offices who are of low or modest means. When registering for the Forum, please consider coming to the workshop!

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