News & Articles of Interest

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Homeowners May Face “HELOC Shock”

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Homeowners May Face “HELOC Shock”

Many homeowners opened home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs as they are popularly known, during the 2004-2007 lending boom.  Those that have been paying interest-only since then may be facing financial shock as their reset date approaches and they will be forced to bring their balance down to zero. Repaying Home Equity Loans by Lisa Prevost – NYT Real Estate Section, February 9, 2014...

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What Is Collaborative Law & Why is it Transforming the Practice of Law?

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What Is Collaborative Law & Why is it Transforming the Practice of Law?

Co-Authored by Joan L. Tremer, Esq. Reprinted with permission of the Richmond County Bar Association Journal Fall 2013.  Collaborative Law or Collaborative Practice as it is sometimes called is one of the newest forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which can, in many cases, prove highly beneficial to both clients and counsel.  This article will present an overview of the basics of the collaborative law model, its advantages over litigation and mediation when utilized in appropriate cases, and the ethical issues which must be considered when integrating Collaborative Law into your practice. Collaborative Law is an “alternative way to settle disputes in which both parties hire specially trained attorneys who work to help them respectfully resolve the conflict.”1 In fact, Collaborative Law, and ADR in general, have recently been receiving favorable publicity and positive support from the public as well as an increasingly overburdened court system. In her book entitled The New Lawyer: How Settlement Is Transforming the Practice of Law, Professor Julie Macfarlane points out “…a 98% civil settlement rate, and the increasing use of negotiation, mediation, and collaboration in resolving lawsuits, have dramatically altered the role of the lawyer.” Commenting further “that the patience and deference of the consumers of legal services are beginning to fray around the edges, and have ignited a growing demand among clients, whether they be corporate or individuals, for their lawyers to serve as ‘conflict resolvers’ rather than ‘warriors’.”2 Indeed, a collaborative lawyer’s role is not one of adversary on behalf of the client, but rather, as advocate and advisor to assist the client in reaching a harmonious and just settlement, thus answering that “growing demand” for an alternative path to resolution. In a recent article in the ABA Journal’s August 2013 issue, the emerging trend toward the “integrated practice of law”, which includes collaborative practice, was explored. Integrative lawyers see themselves as “healers” and are venturing into the fields of psychology and neuroscience to better comprehend how the human mind and psyche work. This knowledge can then be used in negotiations to reduce conflict and approach resolution in a therapeutic transformative way. By refraining from the trademarks of traditional law, and the aggressive and competitive approaches often employed, integrative lawyers can achieve positive outcomes for their clients and better balance in their own lives by focusing instead “on avoiding harm and restoring relationships”.3 From that point of view, Collaborative Law may be seen as revolutionary, and the training and skill-set of collaborative lawyers most timely, given Professor Macfarlane’s observation of a societal trend away from high conflict. The New York Unified Court System, prompted by the foresight of former Chief Judge Kaye, has embraced the collaborative model by establishing a Collaborative Family Law Center.4 The Center, through its informative website, provides a thorough explanation of the process and details it’s applicability in a question and answer format appropriate for lay people as well as attorneys. While acknowledging that collaborative law is not appropriate in every case, the Center seeks to make available low cost collaborative services to qualified divorcing couples, as well as listing all the collaborative practice groups throughout the state, for couples seeking to privately retain collaborative attorneys. The Staten Island practice group is one of the fifteen currently existing statewide.5 The Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA) has been approved by...

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The New Deal in Divorce

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The New Deal in Divorce

Collaborative law is rapidly emerging as a popular alternative to traditional divorce.  Specially trained lawyers and other professionals provide a cost-effective and family sensitive approach, without the stress and animosity that often accompany divorce litigation. The New Deal in Divorce by Elise G. McIntosh – Staten Island Advance, January 03,...

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