Recent News

Vicki Shemin Publishes Article on Covenant Marriages in Family Mediation Quarterly

Vicki L. Shemin’s article on covenant marriage, entitled "To Covenant or Not To Covenant: That is the Question!" (page 11), was published in the Spring 2015 Family Mediation Quarterly. Covenant marriage, which exists currently only in three states (not Massachusetts) is an alternative to the traditional marriage contract: it requires pre-marital counseling, a waiting period before divorce, and introduces far more limited grounds for divorce.  Could this signal a new trend in family law?

Vicki Shemin Joins OverDivorce and Family Matters Radio Shows to Discuss Prenuptials, Postnuptials, and Her New Book

Recently, Vicki L. Shemin was a guest on two national podcasts (OverDivorce and Voice America) discussing “Agreements to Stay Married,” “Prenuptial and Postnupial Agreements” and the opportunity to become part of publishing history by contributing confidential letters to her book-in-the-making entitled - LETTERS TO EX-SPOUSES: AND I JUST WANTED YOU TO KNOW. You can listen to her on OverDivorce or on Voice America.

Katherine Triantafillou Publishes Call to Action in Mass Lawyers Journal

BLC Affiliate Katherine Triantafillou, Esq., published an article regarding the interplay between domestic violence and the division of marital assets under Chapter 208 Section 34 in the May issue of Mass. Lawyers' Journal. Katherine, who co-authored Chapter 209A, under which survivors of abuse can obtain a restraining order against their partner, argues that courts must take into account a spouse's abuse when considering "conduct" of the parties in dividing marital assets.

Vicki Shemin's Relative Posthumously Awarded Medal of Honor

Vicki Shemin, Of Counsel to BLC, was at the White House and the Pentagon this past week for a ceremony in which her relative, William Shemin, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in WWI. The Shemin family has been working for over a decade urging recognition of individuals whose acts of courage were overlooked due to anti-Semitism and racism. Together with Army Sergeant William Shemin, Army Private Henry Johnson also received the Medal.

David A. Hoffman Scholarship Fund to train lawyers who serve the public interest

Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. (MCLE) is establishing a scholarship fund in David Hoffman’s honor for the purpose of funding scholarships for legal aid attorneys, private practitioners who accept pro bono cases, and other deserving lawyers who, without financial assistance, could not attend MCLE programs.  If you would like to make a contribution to this fund, in support of training lawyers who serve the public interest, please visit and select the David A. Hoffman Scholarship Fund from the drop-down menu to make a gift online. To make a contribution offline, print out and complete a pledge form, and forward it directly to the David A. Hoffman Scholarship Fund, c/o Sal Ricciardone, Esq., MCLE, 10 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108-4751 or email it to  If you have any questions, please call Sal at MCLE at (617) 896-1596.

BLC Founder Honored for Outstanding Service in Dispute Resolution


The ABA Section of Dispute Resolution named BLC Founder David Hoffman the recipient of the 2015 D’Alemberte-Raven Award. The award, created to recognize outstanding service in dispute resolution, is the Section's highest honor. Previous recipients have included Roger Fisher, Frank Sander, Janet Reno, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Sen.George Mitchell. Read the press release here

Vicki Shemin Launches Book Project on Divorce

Vicki Shemin launched a book project on divorce, which will feature letters written by people who have been through a divorce. The book, “LETTERS TO EX-SPOUSES: . . . AND I JUST WANTED YOU TO KNOW,” will contain candid reflections on love, marriage, children, and divorce. The letters, contributed anonymously, are not necessarily ones that the writer has sent or would actually send, but rather messages that a divorced person, looking back, would like to communicate with his/her divorced spouse.  BLC is encouraging people who have been through divorce to participate in this project.  For more info, click here.

Recent Recognitions

Vicki Shemin Named one of Boston's Top Lawyers in 2015

Legal Leaders named Vicki Shemin one of Boston's Top Lawyers in 3 categories- ADR, Family Law and Mediation/Collaborative Law.

Vicki Shemin Listed in Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers.

This recognition is exclusively for women attorneys who have received the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards from their peers. Less than 5% of women lawyers have been recognized with an AV Preeminent Rating. Vicki Shemin has been selected continuously since 2011.

Vicki Shemin Honored

In January, LinkedIn named BLC Attorney Vicki Shemin a Top Influencer.  

Vicki Shemin Recognized

The WorldWide Registry recognized BLC Attorney Vicki Shemin as an expert attorney resource. She is honored to be qualified for inclusion in Top 101 Industry Experts.

Israela Brill-Cass provides expert commentary for article on workplace ethics

For the second time, BLC Affiliate Israela Brill-Cass provided the expert commentary in an article on This time, she spoke of the importance of telling the truth, regardless of pressure applied by one's superiors. In August, she provided the advice for another column about a manager's responsibility for the misdeeds of their employees.

Past News & Recognitions

Israela Brill-Cass Provides Expert Commentary for BBC Article on Workplace Ethics

Asked as an expert, BLC Affiliate Israela Brill-Cass spoke out on workplace ethics for the twice monthly BBC Work Ethic column. This time, she spoke on a manager's responsibility for the misdeeds of their employees (she was also quoted in a later article, here).

Israela Brill-Cass Holds Workshop on Everyday Negotiations

On October 29, BLC Affiliate, Israela Brill-Cass, conducted the first of two 90-minute workshops on everyday negotiations for the Society of Grownups. Topics she covered included that conflict is normal and that preparation is critical to feeling confident and comfortable negotiating. Israela will next be hosting this workshop on December 20, 2014.

Israela Brill-Cass Trains Court Specialists in Conciliation

On October 24, BLC Affiliate, Israela Brill-Cass, again served as trainer and role play coach for a group of court specialists at the Lowell District Court. The training was presented by the Administrative Office of the Trial Court and Metropolitan Mediation Services. Israela has been a trainer with the AOTC since 2011.

David Hoffman Named One of MCLE's Four Scholar-Mentors for 2014

At a reception on October 22, BLC's founder David Hoffman was named one of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)'s four 2014 scholar-mentors, "outstanding members of the bar who have demonstrated leadership through long-term service to MCLE, excellence in teaching or writing, and creativity in the suggestion of program and publication ideas." In his acceptance speech, David spoke of learning by doing, the power of teachers, and being our authentic selves.

David Hoffman named Super Lawyers for 2014

BLC's founder David Hoffman was selected for the list of 'Super Lawyers,' published annually by Thompson Reuters.  Lawyers are nominated by their peers and the selection is further narrowed by Thompson Reuters' independent research. Only 5% of lawyers receive this award. 2014 marks David's tenth consecutive year of receiving this honor.

Israela Brill-Cass Co-Chaired MCLE's ADR and the Law Conference

BLC Affiliate, Israela Brill-Cass, co-chaired Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)'s 6th Annual ADR and the Law Conference, which was held on Monday, September 29, 2014. This year's keynote speaker was Doug Stone, co-author of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. The conference included a panel workshop on Technology and ADR. Israela co-chaired MCLE's first three ADR and the Law Conferences (2009-2011) and she is a part of MCLE's faculty for ADR trainings.

Israela Brill-Cass Trains Housing Specialists in Conciliation

BLC's Affiliate, Israela Brill-Cass, trained a group of Housing Specialists at the Hampshire Probate Court. The training was presented by the Administrative Office of the Trial Court and Metropolitan Mediation Services. Israela has been a trainer with the AOTC since 2011.

Vicki Shemin Presents in Workshop on When to Collaborate and When to Mediate

BLC's Of Counsel, Vicki Shemin, presented at the first workshop sponsored by the Joint Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council-Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation, which tackled the important question of assessing whether Collaborative Process or mediation would better suit your client's needs.

David Hoffman Selected as a Best Lawyer for 2015

BLC's David Hoffman was named a "Best Lawyer" by U.S. News & World Report in the areas of Arbitration, Collaborative Civil Law, Collaborative Family Law, Family Law Mediation, and Mediation. 2015 is the ninth year in a row that David has been named a Best Lawyer.

David Hoffman Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

BLC's David Hoffman was honored this weekend with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Civil Trial Mediators at a reception in Bar Harbor, ME. The College is a select group of approximately 150 mediators nationwide who have been chosen based on experience, skill, reputation, ethical standards, and commitment to alternative dispute resolution. Prior recipients of this award have included Prof. Roger Fisher, Prof. Frank Sander, and Sen. George Mitchell.

Sixth Conciliation Training with the Administrative Office of the Trial Court for BLC Executive Director

BLC's Affiliate Israela Brill-Cass served as a trainer and role play coach for the Administrative Office of the Trial Court (AOTC)’s Norfolk Probate Court Conciliation Training in Dedham at the Endicott Estate on June 6, 2014. Israela has been training conciliators with the AOTC since 2011.

Employment Panelist Chuck Walker Speaks on Lawyers as Problem Solvers at BBA

One of BLC's employment panelists, Chuck Walker, served as a guest panelist on "Lawyers as Problem Solvers: Using Non-Traditional Litigation/Legal Strategies to Resolve Legal Cases" at the Boston Bar Association on May 27, 2014.

David Hoffman Delivers Keynote Address on Making 'Peacemaker' Your Full-Time Job

On May 7, 2014, the Rhode Island Mediators Association held its annual "Celebrate Rhode Island Mediation" dinner in Warwick, Rhode Island. BLC Member David Hoffman was the keynote speaker and he discussed "Making 'Peacemaker' Your Full-Time Job."

Back by Popular Demand: Encore Presentation of the Inner Dimensions of Mediation IFS Model

Mediators, lawyers and other professionals who deal with conflict were invited to attend "The Inner Dimensions of Mediation: An Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model" on May 6, 2014 at Kerem Shalom in Concord. BLC's David Hoffman and psychologist Richard Schwartz led this one-day training introducing the theory and practice of the Internal Family Systems Model as a tool for conflict resolution, with simulations and written materials. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Center for Self-Leadership, which was founded by Dr. Schwartz.

Latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group Meeting Held at BLC

The latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group meeting was held on Tuesday, May 6 at BLC. Rackham Karlsson discussed "Closing the Information Gap on Alternatives to Divorce Litigation." The meeting began with a presentation on the current state of public awareness of alternatives to divorce litigation, including Collaborative Law and Mediation, followed by an open discussion of how individual practitioners can help close the information gap. The presentation portion included: quantifying public awareness of alternatives to divorce litigation; how popular divorce resources perpetuate the information gap; the information gap in social media; case study: the costs of closing the information gap using direct marketing. Rackham Karlsson is a family law mediator and collaborative law attorney based in Cambridge, MA. Previously an associate at Kates & Barlow, PC, Rackham made the decision to go solo in 2012 and stopped taking litigated cases entirely in 2014. He is a member of MCLC, IACP, MCFM, and ACR. Additional information about Rackham's practice is available at

David Hoffman Speaks on the Power of Expectations in Conflict Resolution

BLC's David Hoffman was one of the featured speakers at the annual Advanced Forum of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council ("The Power of Expectations in Conflict Resolution: Managing Multiple Mindsets") on April 30, 2014 at the Southborough Campus of Clark University.

Association for Conflict Resolution Meeting Features Speaker David Hoffman

BLC's David Hoffman was the featured speaker at the semi-annual meeting of the New England chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution at the Wellesley Community Center on April 30, 2014.

Overcoming Barriers Explores How to Ensure a Good Professional Team

BLC's Vicki Shemin was on an interactive roundtable discussion with William Levine, Esq. and Honorable Chouteau Levine (ret.) exploring how to create a good professional team for families and what to do when your team is less than ideal. This discussion was part of an event, "Overcoming Barriers' Boston Reception at the Waterworks Museum." Overcoming Barriers' programs and trainings help families in high-conflict divorce situations. This event was held on April 29, 2014 at the Waterworks Museum. 

Civil Mediation Workshop Training Features BLC Founder

BLC's David Hoffman led Day One of the Civil Mediation Training Workshop at MCLE on April 14, 2014.

Mediation and Psychology of Divorce Explored at MCLE 

BLC's David Hoffman and BLC Affiliate Dr. Richard Wolman served as panelists at the annual Family Law Conference at MCLE on April 11, 2014. They participated in a workshop entitled, "Mediation: What are They Really Fighting About," which discussed the psychology of divorce.

BLC Founder Presents Mediation Workshops at ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference

BLC's David Hoffman presented two workshops at the annual conference of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution in Miami, Florida on April 4, 2014.  One of the workshops was "Exploring the Crossroads of Diversity and Psychological Issues in Mediation and Negotiation” (with Daniel Bowling, Homer La Rue, and Marvin Johnson), and the other was "Mediator as Moral Witness."

Latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group Meeting Held at BLC

The latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group meeting was held on April 1, 2014 at BLC. Jessie Foster discussed, “Understanding Stock Options in Divorce.” Many executives who work for public or private companies, large and small, are often paid with long-term and short-term incentives such as stock options and restricted stock, in addition to their base salary. How these incentives are handled in divorce can be confusing and complex and are fraught with tax complications and imprecise valuation methods. Often times the language used in Separation Agreements does not deal with the complexity of these assets and leaves both parties open to problems in the future.  We took a detailed look as to how these executive benefits work and how best to address them in divorce. Jessie Foster is a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ and Collaborative Law Financial Neutral who works with clients and their attorneys to fully understand the financial complexities surrounding divorce. She offers comprehensive analysis of the short-term and long-term impacts of proposed divorce settlements that may impact clients and their families well beyond divorce. Ms. Foster is a Board Member of The Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council (MCLC) and serves as Chair of the MCLC Members Meeting Committee.  She is also a member of The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, the Divorce Center and the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. Ms. Foster currently works at the Raskin Planning Group.

Representing Clients in Mediation: An Advocacy Workshop

BLC's David Hoffman,  BLC Affiliate's Israela Brill-Cass and Don Greenstein led an advocacy workshop on "Representing Clients in Mediation" on March 24, 2014. The increasing use of mediation has changed the way law is practiced in the U.S. and internationally, and clients expect lawyers to have a working knowledge of the mediation process. However, advocacy in mediation is not taught in law school, and requires a very different set of skills than trial advocacy. This workshop taught lawyers about persuasion and problem-solving in the context of mediation, and gave participants an opportunity to try new approaches using participatory role plays and discussion.

Exploring "The Inner Dimensions of Mediation: An Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model" with David Hoffman and Richard Schwartz

Mediators, lawyers and other professionals who deal with conflict attended "The Inner Dimensions of Mediation: An Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model" on March 14, 2014 at the Boston Bar Association. BLC's David Hoffman and psychologist Richard Schwartz led this one-day training introducing the theory and practice of the Internal Family Systems Model as a tool for conflict resolution, with simulations and written materials. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Center for Self-Leadership, which as founded by Dr. Schwartz. A second presentation on this topic will be held on May 6, 2014. Please email Lenore to RSVP for the event.

Latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group Meeting Held at BLC

The latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group meeting was held on March 4, 2014 at BLC. David Goodman discussed, “Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Divorce Taxation in Collaborative Law Practice.” This presentation looked at selected tax issues related to divorcing couples, including: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and responsibility of judges to consider taxes; divorce court orders and tax consequences; child support versus alimony; dependency; child care credit; release of exemption to non-custodial parent; requirements for release of claim by custodial parent; mortgage interest and real estate tax deduction - who gets; common problems in alimony; income spouse relief; and depreciation and income. David Goodman has been working with divorcing couples since 1997, providing assistance with property settlements; alimony and child support optimization; and income analysis. David is also an expert in business valuation and works with numerous tax clients. Mr. Goodman recently completed Collaborative Law Practice training with MCLC. He is President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts. David works at Gosule, Butkus & Jesson, LLP, a full service accounting firm providing accounting & auditing, business advisory, litigation, and business valuation, taxation, and, through Mainsail Advisors, wealth management services.

Panel and Audience Conversations on "Intake: Setting the Stage for Your Mediation Process"

BLC Affiliate, Israela Brill-Cass was a panelist at MCFM's Professional Development Workshop on "Intake: Setting the Stage for Your Mediation Process" at the Wellesley Free Library on February 12, 2014. Your mediation process starts when you design your website or otherwise advertise your practice. Form follows function: what do you want your intake process to accomplish?  Whether you have a website, whether you talk on the phone, whether you meet with the clients when they first come into your office or whether you have an assistant meet them to obtain basic information about them. Why you prefer one system over another. What are the advantages and disadvantages of filling out basic intake forms with your clients as opposed to an assistant performing this function? What do you ask in your intake form? How do you use in your mediation the information you have gathered in your intake? What do you think your clients are learning during your intake? The expert panelists and audience members shared their own experiences at this event.

BLC Of Counsel Named Pre-eminent Women Lawyer in 2014

BLC's Vicki Shemin was selected for the 2014 Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Pre-eminent Women Lawyers. This recognition is for women attorneys who have received the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards from their peers.

Latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group Meeting Held at BLC

The latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group meeting was held on February 4, 2014 at BLC. Diane C. Pappas presented, “The Marital Home and Divorce – The Issues, Pitfalls and Tax Implications.” This presentation looked at a case study that raises questions about the treatment of the marital home in divorce. Often times, one spouse is adamant about keeping the home, but rarely does that spouse understand what it means to actually ‘keep’ it. There are a multitude of financial and tax issues that need to be addressed up front before any discussion of a settlement can take place. Can the spouse afford to stay in the home? Will s/he be able to qualify for a mortgage to buy out the other spouse?  Is it better to own the home jointly for tax purposes?  The answers to these questions and more will be addressed and answered from the perspective of a divorce financial professional. Topics to be addressed include: Capital Gains Exclusion, Use and Occupancy Rules, Cost Basis, Non-Qualified Use and the Housing Assistance Act of 2008, Qualifying fora Mortgage in 2014, Advantages and Disadvantages of Keeping v. Selling, and The Deed and Deductibility of Mortgage Payments as Alimony. Diane is the Owner of Solutions for Divorce LLC, an independent, fee-only divorce financial planning firm. She is a Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™, a collaboratively-trained Financial Neutral and a trained Mediator. Drawing on over 20 years of life and work experience, Diane develops financial strategies and plans that solve her clients’ short and long-term needs and goals. She is passionate about educating her clients, so that they are informed and in control of the important financial decisions they are making. Helping her clients navigate the complex financial intricacies of divorce and providing them with realistic options and strategies that work for their family is the core of Diane’s practice. Working in conjunction with attorneys and mediators, Diane addresses all the tax and finance issues associated with the divorce process ultimately helping the team arrive at a more fair and equitable settlement.

BLC Members Serve on Panel to Discuss Strategies for Success while Representing Clients in the Mediation of Business Disputes

BLC’s David Hoffman and BLC Affiliate Israela Brill-Cass joined Professor Dwight Golann as panelists for the “Representing Clients in the Mediation of Business Disputes: Strategies for Success” program at the Boston Bar Association on January 27, 2014. Participants explored the details of the pre-mediation communication and activities that set the stage for a more productive mediation; developed a strong process checklist; enhanced understanding of the goals and stages of caucusing; discerned between negotiating with the other side and negotiating with the mediator; and discussed best practices for managing settlements and impasses.

"Divorce Corp" Premiere Showing and Panel

BLC's David Hoffman spoke on a panel after the Boston premiere of the documentary "Divorce Corp" at Waltham's Embassy Theater on January 23, 2014. The other speakers included Steve Hitner (President of Massachusetts Alimony Reform) and Ned Holstein (Chair and Founder of the National Parents Organization, which sponsored the film showing).

BLC Participates in MCLE Family Law Mediation Training

BLC's David Hoffman, and BLC Affiliate, Israela Brill-Cass  served as trainers in MCLE's Family Law Mediation Training workshop in January 2014.

Latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group Meeting Held at BLC

The latest Greater Boston Collaborative Law Practice Group was held on January 7, 2014 at BLC. Dr. Cathy Heenan presented, “Moving Through Impasse: Preventions and Interventions.”How often have you heard and said, “I’ve had it!  This is too hard!  We’re stuck!”? Making the paradigm shift from traditional to collaborative practice is challenging.  Increasing self-awareness and developing specific skills can facilitate this shift. Gathering practical information while drawing out emotional content is necessary to build trust, develop rapport, and prevent impasse. Even with these skills, obstacles are likely to occur. This training enabled participants to understand the components and complexities of impasse and provide new and specific interventions for keeping the process moving. This workshop provided opportunities to integrate interventions through practice. The objectives for the meeting were to: identify obstacles and develop skills to make the paradigm shift; learn how to anticipate, assess, and manage obstacles; and learn 10 specific interventions for preventing and managing impasse. Dr. Heenan is a psychologist, collaborative divorce coach and parenting adviser. She is an International Collaborative Law Trainer, having trained over 1,300 professionals in Basic and Advanced Collaborative Practice. Dr. Heenan is a Board member of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council and co-creator of the 'Collaborative Divorce Video Series' which is being used in practice groups and collaborative trainings worldwide.  She is co-author of the book "Preparing, Designing and Leading Workshops:  A Humanistic Approach."  She can be reached at 617-969-8389 and

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