President's Message - Winter 2021

President's Letter to our Members

By Ken Novenstern

As I sit here on the couch watching the snowfall on our second Sunday storm in February, with the gas stove on and Walter snuggled at the end of the sofa, I think about how we can increase the number of Collaborative cases for our members and make Collaborative part of the discussion in every new consultation for a separation or divorce. I scroll Linked In and see postings and comments from several of our members including the recent NY Times article quoting Andrea Vacca, Esq. and Kate Bar-Tur, LCSW and from Melissa Goodstein, Esq. promoting NYACP programs and our recent Deborah Gilman and Jacinta Gallant programs. Ivan Alter, Esq.,. recently posted a video promoting the benefits of Collaborative Law. Katherine Miller, Esq. posts regularly on Twitter and other platforms.

Steve Kaplan. CPA comments on many of these posts and describes his view of how Collaborative Law provides an important option for divorcing couples stating in one of his comments: “Collaborative is a great choice, particularly during these difficult times when parties and their families are confronting challenges the traditional court system is hard pressed to address, especially with diminished access and budgetary constraints.”

A few of the Board goals for 2021 include increasing the Social Media IQ and involvement of our members, improving our website by updating it and increasing our SEO and encouraging members to look at the information they previously posted and updating it, increasing our membership both in numbers and in a more diverse member community (which will take more than just this year). We are gradually increasing our membership in part as a result of reducing dues to $595 per year, because our wonderful executive director Abby Curro guided us through a considered discussion of the issues surrounding the dues amount with important input from Board members. Most importantly, our board values the input of our members and fee reduction was raised by many members. A working committee on Streamlining the Collaborative Process has been hard at work since we presented Brian Galbraith's program on the Streamlined Collaborative Process Model this past Spring 2020 to develop a Streamlined Collaborative Model for our association. This in response to members asking for a more efficient and streamlined model for their clients. We are listening and your voices matter.

From my perspective, 2021 will be the year more NYACP members adopt Social Media as a way of getting more cases for all of us—if you build it they will come! I understand that for some members Social Media is fraught—uncomfortable issues about what will I say on one of those videos—I don’t do Facebook—I don’t understand Twitter or Instagram—how do I use Linked In?

We have hired a website developer/designer to assist with the website and work starts this month. We are retaining Cap Hill to work on Social Media for the NYACP and will shortly have offerings for members at volume rates to help untangle the jumble of Social Media opportunities and create or update Linked In pages and other forms of Social Media. The Training and Education Committee as well as the regional PODs will be presenting programs to enhance our social media skills within the different platforms.The goal is to continue and enhance the buzz about Collaborative Law as an alternative to litigation in divorce and family law matters. Yes in some respects we are competitors when it comes to attracting new clients, but we all remember the story about the small town with only one attorney who had little work—and then the second attorney moved into town and all of the sudden there was plenty of work to go around. The more each of us can do to promote our practices and Collaborative Law, the more cases there will be for all of us---litigation has been around for a long time and now it’s Collaborative’s turn!!!

Finally, please be in contact with me and your Board members, and volunteer to work on Committees. We welcomed two new board members, Stephen Linker and Catherine Canade this year who will be joining Neil Cahn, Michelle Lewis, Jeffrey Steiger, Ellen Jancko Baken, Bob Raymond, Meg Sussman, Secretary, Nancy Kaye, Treasurer, Andrea Vacca as immediate past president, and Melissa Goodstein as my Vice President. We bring to the board a diversity in practice and profession with a shared commitment to Collaborative Practice all in furtherance of NYACP's mission - "Enpowering members to achieve excellence in Collaborative skills and practice."  We put a significant amount of time into keeping NYACP moving forward and the more input, training and education programs and member engagement, the stronger our NYACP will be.