IACP Conference in Chicago

Posted by Heidi Risser
on November 4, 2019

I just returned from the International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) in Chicago, which was held last week. 

Kendra Erkamaa, a financial neutral from Des Moines, IA, and me at the IACP last week.

I met collaborative lawyers, mediators, mental health providers and financial neutrals from all over the world (Australia, Canada, UK, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Israel, to name a few) as well as from all over the US.  I took classes on the newest ideas in collaborative law and mediation. 

I will be sharing these ideas and learnings on January 9th at the CCDP meeting (time and place TBD). 

I enjoyed getting to know Steven Goldman, a fellow attorney from Fairfax, VA.

One of the classes I took was Collaborative Law and Mediation: On a Collision Course or Merging? I took another class on streamlining the collaborative process, and I even learned about a Flat Fee Collaborative Model being used in Canada.  

Lydia Richardson, a mental health professional from Chicago, IL, and I enjoyed discussing Myers Briggs and the Enneagram model.

I had a 5-hour class on the Enneagram Model of personality, which is a fascinating theory.  I took a class from Pauline Tessler, and she spoke about various ways to become more self-aware and become a better collaborative professional.  She gave us a battery of tests on Myers Briggs, unconscious bias, Enneagram, and conflict style.  I left her class very informed, more self-aware and quite a bit more humble.

Cheryl Panther, a financial neutral from Nashville, TN, was sweet as can be!

It wasn’t all work, though.  Much of our time was spent socializing with all these interesting professionals.  When you do the same kind of work, you sort of skip over the basics and begin to explore ways to push the collaborative method forward. 

I was awestruck by Louise Mathias, a barrister and mediator from Sydney, Australia!

The people I met were kind, warm and very giving of their time and professional experience.  I definitely plan to attend the IACP convention again.

Continue Reading

Lynna Moen’s Campaign Kickoff

Posted by Heidi Risser
on July 23, 2019
Lynna Moen and I laugh and smile at the camera.
Who said lawyers can’t have a good time?

I attended the kickoff of Lynna Moen’s campaign for District Court Judge 2020.  The event was held at the offices of Miller Bowles Law, PLLC.  The speeches were short but impactful. 

I have worked with Lynna for years and have deep respect for her as a person and as an attorney.  However, until they read her resume, I had no idea how accomplished she really is. 

There were a lot of family law attorneys at the kickoff, because we want more district court judges with family law experience.  It’s not always enough just to have some familiarity with the statutes and cases, it really is helpful to have practiced in this area and to have a feel for the clients and their families.  Lynna has that. 

Laura Burt and me smile at the camera
The Charlotte family law community is very tight knit, and we love getting together!

Some people may think family lawyers all dislike each other, especially if you just watch us in court.  In reality, many of us enjoy each other’s company.  Looking at the pictures, you can tell we were having fun.

Continue Reading

Changing the Culture of Divorce

Posted by Heidi Risser
on May 23, 2019

Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals (CCDP), which is the local collaborative family law group, had it’s last meeting of the year on Thursday evening. 

Ashley-Nicole Russell inspired me to continue to advocate for collaborative method when helping couples going through divorce.

CCDP brought in an author and collaborative family law attorney to speak.  Ashley-Nicole Russell shared her experiences running a collaborative family law practice with offices in Greenville, Raleigh and Atlantic City, NC. 

In terms of commitment to collaborative practice, she was speaking to the choir in our group.  However, she had a lot to offer with regards to statistics on what a contentious, court-room divorce battle can do to the children involved. 

Her statistics showed that children of divorce have an increased chance of alcohol dependence and suicide, among other ill effects.  Ashley-Nicole is on a mission to change the culture of divorce, especially since she experienced her own parents’ divorce and the trauma it brought to her life. 

She encouraged us to “sell” the collaborative method shamelessly to our clients and other attorneys, because it is better for the family and especially for the children.  She also offered some great advice on marketing the collaborative practice. 

I wasn’t sure what we were in for when I decided to attend the dinner, but I left inspired.  Since I began to practice collaboratively, I have always believed in its virtues, but it was nice to receive an inspiring pep talk from a fellow practitioner.

Continue Reading

Charlotte Museum of History Benefit Dinner

Posted by Heidi Risser
on May 14, 2019

I attended a benefit for the Charlotte Museum of History last week, as the guest of my friend, Deborah Hampton.

While I was there, I ran into some folks in my law school class—Tamika Shafeek-Horton, Amy Hinshaw and Chris Brady. 

I was able to spend time with my friends (from left) Amy Hinshaw, Tamika Shafeek-Horton, and Deborah Hampton.

I toured the Hezekiah Alexander house, which dates back to 1774.  Hezekiah Alexander served as a local magistrate and leader during the time following the Revolutionary War, when the British were no longer governing the colonies. 

I loved meeting some of Deborah’s friends at this event!

It is amazing that we have preserved this historical site so close to the center of the city.  Still surrounded by woods, it was a leafy and lush site for the benefit dinner.

Continue Reading

Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals Holiday Party

Posted by Heidi Risser
on December 12, 2018

Last week, I attended the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals Holiday Party.  I have been a member of this group for more than 10 years.

Last night, looking around the room, I was amazed at how this group has grown over the years.  Meetings like this used to be just a few of us who believed in the collaborative approach to family law.  Now, we have attracted many more attorneys, CPA’s, Certified Domestic Financial Planners, Divorce Coaches and Child Specialists.

I have worked with many of the people in the room last night, and they are an amazingly talented group.  The more I trust these fellow professionals to help my clients navigate the divorce process, the better they have made my work life and the better they have made the process for those I represent.  I also believe they have improved the outcomes for hundreds, and probably thousands, of people each year here in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.

It was nice to reflect on all of this at year’s end, and look forward to more of the same in the new year.

Continue Reading

40 Hour Mediation Class

Posted by Heidi Risser
on November 1, 2018

On October 26th, Mark Riopel, Ketan Soni and I finished up our first 40-hour Mediation Training class.  We had a terrific class of attendees. All of us worked very hard over a two-week period. The moral and enthusiasm of the attendees remained high, even after four ten-hour days!

Ketan, Mark and I pose after teaching our 40-hour mediation training.

Ketan, Mark and I pose after teaching our 40-hour mediation training.

We enjoyed getting to know the students and learning why they want to become mediators. Most of the students in the class were lawyers. We also had several non-lawyers in attendance. It was inspiring to see them hone their mediation skills and become better mediators over the course of the class.

Sarah Kemble lent her help to the class - thank you Sarah!

Sarah Kemble was an enthusiastic attendee of the class – thank you Sarah!

We covered several topics that are pertinent in mediation during the class. We learned bargaining techniques, basic family law topics, Myers Briggs issues, and High Conflict issues. Additionally, mock mediations gave everyone a chance to practice new mediation skills.

Ann Kreindler Seigal was a fabulous, enthusiastic student - thank you Ann!

Ann Kreindler Seigal was a fabulous, enthusiastic student – thank you Ann!

Mark, Ketan and I were so pleased that our local mediation community supported our class by serving as mock mediation observers and guest speakers. We could not have asked for a better beginning to our mediation training. I cannot wait to offer this class again in the Spring!

For more information on mediation training, please visit our website here.

Continue Reading

Ketan Soni’s Up and Coming Mediator Award Ceremony

Posted by Heidi Risser
on October 25, 2018
Ketan Soni poses at the NCDRC Up and Coming Mediator Award ceremony in Raleigh.

Ketan Soni poses at the NCDRC Up and Coming Mediator Award ceremony in Raleigh.

I am so proud of my fellow mediation trainer, Ketan Soni.  He has just won the first annual Up and Coming Mediator Award presented by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC).

Tara Kozlowski, Executive Director of the DRC, and I caught up at Ketan's award ceremony.

Tara Kozlowski, Executive Director of the DRC, and I caught up at Ketan’s award ceremony.

Ketan and I drove up to the Dispute Resolution Commission (DRC) in Raleigh, NC on Wednesday of last week for the first annual 2018 Up and Coming Mediator of the Year Award.  The DRC honored Ketan because of his outstanding work innovating and furthering the mission of mediation in North Carolina.

Chief Justice Mark Martin presents Ketan Soni with the Up and Coming Mediator of the Year award.

Chief Justice Mark Martin presents Ketan Soni with the Up and Coming Mediator of the Year award.

Ketan developed and taught Continuing Mediation Education courses in Charlotte, NC. He also developed and will teach an upcoming Mediator Training course.  Ketan also has made great strides developing his own mediation practice.  Ketan’s award was presented by Chief Justice Mark Martin, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina

Ketan poses with Chief Justice Mark Martin, Tara Kozlowski, and Maureen Robinson, Administrative Assistant of the DRC.

Ketan poses with Chief Justice Mark Martin, Tara Kozlowski, and Maureen Robinson, Administrative Assistant of the DRC.

In addition, Ketan found out that the NCDRC adopted a new Advisory Opinion (AO 38). This prevents lawyers or mediation participants from using the notes or statements made during mediation, with a few narrow exceptions, in furtherance of a claim for attorneys fees.  This will protect the mediator from having to testify in attorneys fees hearings and will protect the process of mediation in general.  Way to go, Ketan!

Continue Reading