This is the eighth step of a series of 12 steps that explains in detail how the Collaborative Law Process works. Click here for the previous step.
At the 1st full collaborative team meeting, the participants may feel some tension between them as they sit across from each other with their respective professionals next to them. The Professionals will all introduce themselves and explain the process and the agenda to the participants. During this meeting the Professionals will explain to the other participant that no one is going to advocate for any positions and that it is important that both participants trust all the members.
It is important that all team members are present during this first team meeting. The participants will be introduced to all members and get to know who they will be working with. There may be times when not all members are present during meetings. The participants will review the Participation Agreement very carefully. The professionals will highlight certain areas of the Agreement that are important to all present, such as full disclosure, transparency, participating with integrity, and communication, while this may seem redundant it is important that all participants are aware and understand the importance of these areas in a Collaborative case.
It is important that all participants and team members review, understand, and sign the Participation Agreement. All the participants and their team members will leave the first collaborative team meeting with a copy of the Participation Agreement that has everyone’s original signatures.
After the Agreement has been signed, the professionals will then proceed to go through each step on the agenda that was planned during the pre-meeting. Should the participants have some pressing issues or concerns, the team can address those at this time; however, these concerns and issues should not be ultimatums, but rather issues to be discussed amongst the entire team. During this first meeting, the participants will identify issues and concerns that they want to discuss throughout this process. The first collaborative team meeting is not the time for trying to resolve these issues or concerns.
Meetings are generally two (2) hours in duration. Throughout the collaborative team meeting, the participants will be assigned homework that they will need to complete before the next collaborative team meeting or meeting with one of the professionals. The date and time and location for the next meeting will be discussed and agreed upon before the participants leave. At the end of the meeting the professionals will often have a debriefing without the participants present in order to evaluate progress and plan future courses of action.