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MCLC 2021 Virtual Roundtable

What’s Next? Leveraging Lessons from the Pandemic While Fostering Dignity through Collaborative Practice

May 13 and 14, 2021, 8:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., via Zoom


8:45-9:00       Welcome/Opening Remarks:      Patrice Brymner/Jennifer Hawthorne

9:00-10:30     Keynote:                                           Dr. Donna Hicks 

`Dr. Donna Hicks is an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. She draws on her decades of experience using dignity to resolve conflict between people and nations in the U.S., Colombia, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Cuba, and Northern Ireland, as a foundation for her insightful presentations. Dr. Hicks is the author of Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict and Leading with Dignity: How to Create a Culture that Brings Out the Best in People.

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:40  To Tell or Not to Tell: Who Needs to know?  What do you need to share about yourself with other team members to ensure a productive Collaborative process? Explore the impact of “to tell or not to tell” on settlement negotiations and the functioning of the professional team. Discover the importance of finding an optimal balance between privacy and open communication.

Gina Arons, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Dr. Arons is a Collaborative Law coach, mediator, and consultant to attorneys, mediators and their clients. She served on the board of MCLC, is on the MCLC Access to Collaboration Committee, and is faculty for the MCLC Introductory Interdisciplinary Training.

Karen J. Levitt, Esq. is the principal of Levitt Family Law and Mediation, LLC, Acton, MA. She serves as settlement counsel, collaborative attorney, mediator, arbitrator, conciliator, and GAL. She is a Past President of MCLC, a former IACP board member, faculty for the MCLC Introductory Interdisciplinary Training, and the co-facilitator of the MCLC Tri-River Practice Group.

11:40-11:45 Break

11:45-12:45  Exploring Unconscious Bias as an Avenue to Fostering Dignity Explore instances in collaborative cases where implicit bias may impact the professionals’ ability to effectively guide clients. Using a fishbowl role play, small group discussion, and exercises, we will address how to recognize when implicit gender biases of the professionals (and your own biases) are affecting a case and what to do about it.

Beth L. Aarons, JD, MSW has focused her practice on family law and trust/estate dispute resolution for over 20 years. Beth’s background in psychology and social work enhances her connection with clients, child-focused family law work, and her ability to finesse complex family dynamics. She is a Past-President of MCLC, serves on the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation Board, and teaches Mediation at Suffolk Law School, Boston.

Allison J. Bell, PsyD. has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a Master’s in dance therapy. She has been in private practice since 1987, trained as a child psychologist, and works in NY and MA. She is on the board of Hudson Valley Collaborative Divorce Association. She is also a custody evaluator in NY and performs court-related parent/child evaluations in MA.

Jennifer Hawthorne, Esq. is a mediator and collaborative law attorney focusing on conflict resolution of family law matters at Skylark Law & Mediation, PC in Southborough. Jennifer serves on boards of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation and MCLC.

Justin L. Kelsey, Esq. is a collaborative attorney and mediator. Justin is the President of the Massachusetts Council of Family Mediators and is a Past-President of MCLC. Justin also consults on retirement division and QDROs and provides conflict resolution and mediation training. Learn more at

Karen Van Kooy, Esq. is President of MCLC and a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Her family law practice, based in Brookline and Southborough, prioritizes finding the right approach for each family, whether attorney assisted negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, limited representation, or combinations thereof.  Karen also has an estate planning practice.

Kim Whelan, MBA, CDFA® is a mediator with an MBA from Harvard Business School and an eclectic business background, Kim established her mediation practice, earned her CDFA®, and was collaboratively trained -- with the goal of helping clients better navigate financial challenges in divorce.  Kim serves on the boards of MCLC and the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation.

12:45-12:50  Break

12:50-1:50     Science-infused Responses to Cases with Substance Use Dynamics This workshop will discuss science-informed approaches to family law cases that have substance use dynamics, including how to manage relapse, the neurobiology of addiction, and how to troubleshoot coparenting issues outside of court generally, and specifically within a collaborative setting.

Stephanie Tabashneck, J.D., Ph.D. is a psychologist and attorney in Wellesley, with a practice focused on forensic psychological assessment, substance use, child custody, and criminal forensic evaluations. Dr. Tabashneck has presented on psychology and law for the American Bar Association, the Federal Judicial Center, the American Psychiatric Association, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the Mass. Trial Courts, and the New York Office of Attorneys for Children. She is on the board of the Mass. chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Recent publications include an article on the opioid crisis and family drug courts in Family Law Quarterly (Spring 2019); a chapter in the ABA’s book: Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers (2019).

1:50-1:55       Closing remarks


8:45-8:50       Welcome

8:50-9:35       Panel Discussion: Lessons from Pandemic: Responses and Adaptations

A moderated panel discussion of how collaborative practitioners have responded to the challenges of the last year and how some pandemic adaptations will continue to serve collaborative teams moving forward.

9:35–9:40      Break

9:40-10:25     Using Social Media to Address Bias and Diversity in the Collaborative Community Diversity, racism, and antiracism have been in the forefront of the news during the pandemic and our awareness has been raised on issues of racism and antiracism. We know we have challenges to face within our Collaborative Community too. This workshop will focus on how Collaborative Practitioners can leverage social media, both as users and creators, to spread the message of Collaborative Law while also making new personal connections and engaging in self-education and self-reflection on our own implicit biases.

Joy Piper, Esq. is a mediator, collaborative attorney, and litigator, with a practice focus on family and juvenile law, in Springfield. She is a graduate of Suffolk University and Northeastern Law School. While at Northeastern, she clerked for First Justice of Juvenile Court, Middlesex, the Hon. Jay Blittzman, and in CPCS’ Youth Advocacy Division. Attorney Piper is committed to inviting younger lawyers and people of diverse backgrounds to dispute resolution processes using social media, podcasts, webinars, and other media.

Debbie Smith, Esq., practicing in Massachusetts since 1983, is a mediator, collaborative attorney, adjunct professor, and justice of the peace in Watertown. Attorney Smith’s focus is family law, civil juvenile law, and related areas. She was a Massachusetts Council of Family Mediators board member from 2002 to 2010. She currently serves on MCLC’s board and chaired a MCLC practice group from 2011 to 2020. Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate courses, including Family Law and Ethics and Legal Practice Skills at Suffolk University.

10:25-10:35  Break

10:35-12:05  The Collaborative Law Marketing Blueprint In this informative and actionable workshop, Jason will take you through how they helped a traditional divorce lawyer transition to a full-time collaborative practice using a variety of extremely effective marketing strategies and tactics that have created more business than they can handle.

Jason Yormark is a 20-plus year marketing professional, having led marketing for brands such as Microsoft, the U.S. Air Force, and Habitat for Humanity. He is the current owner of the marketing agency Socialistics and their Collaborative Law Socialistics brand, which is focused exclusively on collaborative law.

12:05-12:15  Break

12:15–1:45    Optimizing Positive Team Communication and Joint Meetings: New Tools for Bringing our Best Selves to the Collaborative Table To quote Albert Einstein, “everything is energy”.  As collaborative practitioners, it is imperative that we vigilantly pay attention to how we show up with our team, our clients, and in meetings.  Because like energy attracts like energy, what we bring to the table can either positively, or sometimes, unwittingly, negatively impact the team as well as the clients.  In this workshop, you will learn about the seven levels of energy (also described as the seven lenses through which we uniquely see ourselves and the world), gain insight into which energy levels you habitually experience, and learn ways to utilize these concepts to strengthen team communication and prepare for joint meetings.

Rachel Goldman, JD, CPC, ELI-MP served on the MCLC Board for 13 years, including serving as a Past-President (2015-2016). She has worked with hundreds of collaborative law and mediation clients, helping them successfully negotiate sustainable agreements. In 2018, she moved to Los Angeles and founded RBG Consulting, where she specializes in communication coaching, facilitating difficult conversations, and designing and teaching workshops on topics related to conflict management.


1:45                Closing remarks                             Patrice Brymner/Jennifer Hawthorne


Early Bird Registration EXTENDED until May 7th

$170 MCLC members;

$210 non-members

Registration after May 7th:

$200 for MCLC members;

$240 for all others

Scholarships available. Contact MCLC at



May 13, 2021 8:45 AM through May 14, 2021 2:00 PM
Event Fee(s)
Per person $ 240.00



Access to Collaborative Law (A2CL)

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