Pro bono and Low Bono for Mediators and Collaborative Practitioners by Catherine Conner
I participate in a time limited pro bono program sponsored by my collaborative group with the cooperation of our local courts. We provide a collaborative team for four hours to assist low and modest income people to move toward an agreement. Our program has been remarkably successful in helping people reach agreements, with 30 out of 32 cases resulting in an agreement. I worked on a case recently and was struck again by how much can be accomplished in a short time with motivated parties and a skilled team. With the support of the team, the parties were able to discuss the core of their conflict and left appreciative of the process. I left feeling grateful for the opportunity to serve members of my community that otherwise would have been in limbo.
In the last year, I chaired a task force of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) that examined access to collaboration. IACP recently published a special edition of the Collaborative Review focused solely on access to collaboration. The issue is available online at https://www.collaborativepractice.com/professional/resources/access-to-collaboration.aspx to anyone interested in learning more about the variety of programs being developed, the questions and factors involved in starting a program, and the benefit to practitioners of being involved in providing services. While the articles are specifically about providing collaborative services, many of the ideas can be applied to pro bono and low bono programs for other methods of consensual dispute resolution. If you are not already involved in a volunteer program, you may find it inspiring to read!