Smith & Little Bootcamp

Smith & Little Bootcamp is a new pilot project alternative dispute resolution service for parties with a family law conflict.    Smith & Little Bootcamp is designed for those parties who want a fast resolution to their dispute.  It is designed to get you in and out of the lawyer’s office in one day.  It is an intense session where we help you come to a resolution and if there is no resolution by 3:00 p.m, we act as arbitrators and decide the issue.

Smith & Little Bootcamp is a fast and less expensive alternative to traditional litigation and to traditional mediation and mediation/arbitration for many common family law disputes including: parenting, child support, spousal support, and the division of matrimonial or common law property on the breakdown of a relationship.

Bootcamp Experience Timeline

At least 3 weeks before

Reserve your Bootcamp day.  We only run Bootcamp twice per month, so places fill up fast.  We invite you to contact our staff to reserve your Bootcamp day.

Our staff will go through a brief questionnaire with you to be sure that your case is appropriate for this program.  We will ensure that there are no conflicts within our office and the lawyers will review your questionnaire and approve you for the program.  Our staff will then contact you to finalize your booking.

At least 3 weeks before

Finalize your reservation by paying your retainer.  Once this is paid, our staff will provide each party with their homework package to get to work.

2 weeks before

Submit your homework to our offices to maintain your date.  If your homework is not submitted on time or we discover an issue that requires complex reports or additional information when we review your homework, we will reschedule you for a later date.

Bootcamp Day

Attend at our offices from 9:30 to 4:00.

Within 2 weeks

We will provide each party with a copy of our written report outlining either the negotiated settlement or our decision.

After receipt of the report

Engage Smith & Little LLP to prepare your divorce documents and/or a Separation Agreement reflecting the terms of our written report for a discounted fee.  These services are optional and only available if both parties agree to use Smith & Little LLP for this step.  These services are not necessary or appropriate for all cases.

If you choose to use these services, they are offered to our Bootcamp clients at discount from our normal rates.  In the case of a Separation Agreement, each party will need to sign the Agreement with his or her own independent lawyer.  We have a roster of independent lawyers who offer these services at a discounted rate for our Bootcamp clients.

Bootcamp Day Schedule

9:15 to 9:30

Arrive at our offices.  Enjoy a coffee or tea and some snacks before we get started.

9:30 to 11:00

Opening session.  The four of us will sit down to have a general discussion about the issues to be resolved.  This is each party’s opportunity to let us know what they think the issues are and their general comments on each issue.  Christine and Kelly use this meeting as their introduction to the parties and the issues and to get an overall view as to what an ideal resolution may be.

11:00

Assignment of advocates.  We will perform a random draw to assign Christine and Kelly as advocates for each of the parties.

11:00 to 12:00

Each party will spend this hour one on one with their assigned advocate to make sure that the issues that are most important to them stay on the table and at the forefront of the discussion.

12:00 to 1:30

Lunch Break. Take this time to go for a walk, get some fresh air, and reflect on the morning discussions.  Our offices are connected to great lunch options in the Plus 15 network or there are tables and chairs on the 2nd floor for you to enjoy your packed lunch.  Christine and Kelly take advantage of this time to discuss your matter and some options for resolution.

1:30 to 1:45

Each party will have a brief one on one meeting with their assigned advocate to prepare for the afternoon sessions and discuss any new thoughts and ideas that came up over the lunch break.

1:45 to 3:00

This is the time to focus on crafting a solution that works for both parties.  The four of us will meet together and your advocate will ensure that your key issues are addressed in any settlement options that are discussed.

3:00 to 3:15

If no settlement by agreement has been reached, Christine and Kelly will use this time to have a private discussion and come to decision as to how your matter will be resolved.  This is time for the parties to get some fresh air or take a coffee break.

3:15 to 4:00

The four of us will meet again and Christine and Kelly will go through their decision and provide information as to the steps each party is to take to implement that decision.

Smith & Little Bootcamp FAQ

What is the goal of attending Smith & Little Bootcamp?

We designed this program to provide a service for parties going through a family law matter to quickly get in and out of the lawyer’s office with a settlement and for a flat fee.

This program gets you in and out in 1 day for a set flat fee.

In order to accomplish that goal, there is some preliminary homework and legwork required of both parties.  In addition, time is tight during your Bootcamp day.  You can expect this will be a long and difficult day and we will keep you strictly on task and to your time limits.  This session is designed to get results quickly – it is not a counseling session and we will quickly refocus you if too much time is spent discussing emotional issues.

Finally, sometimes the parties are simply at an impasse and cannot agree to a settlement; in those cases, we will decide the outcome and it will be binding.  Our program is designed with that backstop so that parties can feel confident that by 4:00 pm they will have a settlement, whether it is by agreement, or decided by Christine and Kelly.

What is the price of Smith & Little Bootcamp?

The introductory fee during the pilot project phase is $6000 per couple plus GST.

Does Smith & Little Bootcamp work for everyone?

Our goal is for this program to work for everyone who we accept into it.  It is not appropriate in all cases and we do our best to screen for those factors at our initial booking phase in order to ensure that you have a successful experience.

Some matters which will not be appropriate include those which are very complex or those where there is too much discord.  Complex matters can mean the parties have numerous distinct issues or very complex finances or extreme discord on parenting.  Parties who cannot agree on anything, including whether to come see us to resolve their problem, are not appropriate for this program.

What kind of homework will you give me?

We will provide you with handouts with step by step instructions to help you get us all of the information we need for your Bootcamp to be successful.  The homework is not meant to be onerous or difficult but it is important we ensure that both parties and Christine and Kelly have all of the pertinent information on the day of Bootcamp in order for the process to work as designed.

You can expect that for any matter where assets, debts, or support are in issue, we will require each party to prepare and provide their financial disclosure.  This includes items such as tax returns, bank statements, budgets, and worksheets regarding your incomes, assets and debts.

For matters involving minor children, we will require each party to prepare a worksheet outlining their ideal parenting plan as well as complete the Parenting After Separation course.

Can I attend with my lawyer?

No.  This program is not designed to be lawyer assisted.  If you are represented by a lawyer and you and your lawyer decide that this program is beneficial, we would be happy to enroll you in the program.

(We still love lawyers.)

Why do you assign the advocates by random draw?

There are a few reasons we do this.  We want to ensure the process is transparent and fair and that neither party feels that the other party had their first choice of advocate or that there is any advantage to having one advocate over the other.  In addition, we conduct the drawing after the initial session so that neither Christine nor Kelly know who they will end up advocating for when they listen to the first session and define the issues.  Finally, they will not apply any kind of unconscious bias in assigning themselves between the parties.

What happens if Christine and Kelly don’t agree? Is there a tiebreaker?

We will come to a compromise that is fairest to both parties.  We work together every day and are used to compromising to get the best outcome.  We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and will apply that knowledge to reach our ultimate joint decision.  It is our unique ability to work together and play off of each other that makes this program what it is and is at the heart of the value we are delivering to the participants in this program.

Is there any fine print?

Yes.

If either party does not provide their homework on time, we will reschedule your Bootcamp day once.  If this happens a second time, we will cancel your booking, charge you a cancellation fee of $1000 plus GST for our preparation work and refund the balance of your retainer to you.

Some minimally complex matters are appropriate for Bootcamp but require extra reports to be prepared ahead of time.  These include pension valuations and real estate appraisals.  When we have reviewed your homework, we will, at our discretion, determine and advise you if you need to engage a professional to prepare these reports.  These reports will be at your expense and in addition to our flat fee. We will reschedule your Bootcamp day to accommodate the need to obtain extra information.  The cancellation policy outlined above does not apply in these situations.

Our professional relationship with you and our process are governed by a detailed agreement.  You will be provided with the agreement at the initial stages of booking in order to determine if this process is right for you.  We can only move forward where both parties agree to be bound by our detailed agreement.

If I sign up for this program does this mean that you are my lawyer?  What if one of the lawyers is assigned to be my advocate during Bootcamp day, does that make them my lawyer?

No. 

Signing up for this program does not create a solicitor client relationship between the firm or either of the lawyers and either one of the parties.  In this role, we are acting as arbitrators and applying our experience and knowledge to resolve your dispute.  We are not providing either party with legal advice and we are not representing or protecting your best interests the way we do when we act for clients as their lawyer.  If you are interested in entering into a lawyer/client relationship with us, please ask our office about our traditional legal services.

We cannot offer traditional legal representation to any party who has previously participated in our Bootcamp program.

Is this just a fancy name for mediation or mediation/arbitration?

No.

Traditional mediation/arbitrator is a great alternative to litigation for some matters and some clients but we have also experienced some of the downsides with our clients.

This is an entirely new model that we have created to offer the Smith & Little LLP advantage of “two for the price of one” to parties seeking a quick out of court way to settle their family law disputes.

What are the downsides to traditional mediation or mediation/arbitration in family law matters?

There are many upsides to these programs, but some downsides we have experienced are:

  1. They fail to resolve matters quickly as multiple sessions and days are often required.
  2. When the first day does not resolve the issue, it can be a long wait for the next session as lawyers and mediators have busy calendars.
  3. When matters do not settle quickly, these services can get very expensive.
  4. If there is no agreement and you move to an arbitration phase, this is almost never scheduled for the same day, unlike Smith & Little Bootcamp where we simply make the decision immediately if there is no agreement by 3:00.