Monday, June 27, 2005

What is “Constructive Advocacy”?

“You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Imagine family law advocacy described as a process of candor, courtesy, cooperation, efficiency, less cost [financial and emotional], mutually acceptable resolutions, reduced stress, reduced waste of resources and respect. Don’t these principles sound familiar to mediators?

“Constructive advocacy” is a counseling, problem-solving approach for people in need of help in resolving difficult issues and conflicts within the family. This approach includes consideration of all available means of settling disputes – including, [guess what?!?] mediation.

Where does all of this come from? The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar has published Bounds of Advocacy: Goals for Family Lawyers as a guide to Family Lawyers confronting professional and ethical dilemmas. Among the global tenets is “constructive advocacy” as the goal of all family law attorneys.

For some serious educational fun, while reading Bounds of Advocacy [it really is worth reading], try substituting the word “Mediator” for the word “Attorney” where you believe the Goal would have application to Mediators [especially in Sections 2 and 3] and learn just how comfortable the substitution feels. It’s an interesting exercise!

Thank you Family Law Section for publishing this for Family Lawyers – it’s also a good tool for Family Mediators to have at mediation and to share with those engaging in “Destructive Advocacy”!

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