Also sometimes known as Collaborative Law, or even Collaborative Divorce, it is a way for people to resolve disputes or reach decisions or end their marriage by creating options that meet the interests of all parties. Most people who are involved in any kind of dispute or are ending their marriage would rather reach an agreement with the other person(s) than have to go to court for an answer. Sometimes even people you feel certain would never want to reach an agreement to resolve a dispute would rather reach a workable agreement than try to convince a judge to give him/her what s/he wants. Believe it or not, most attorneys would prefer that, too!
Collaborative Practice supports this goal of actually reaching workable agreements in several ways:
First, it all begins with a Participation Agreement. In this contract, all the parties and all the professionals agree to various core points:
- They each pledge to participate in the work openly, honestly and in good faith.
- They each agree to give to the other whatever information is necessary or might be helpful for working on resolving the dispute.
- They agree that the work they do in the process is confidential.
- They will be working on this without involving the courts in any way. They will not even ‘threaten’ to go to court.
- They agree that if their best efforts don’t result in agreement and they have to go to court, then any professionals involved are disqualified from continuing to represent either of them in any way.
- They agree that neither of them will in any way try to hold the other to any statements or agreements made or information shared during the Collaborative Process in any subsequent court proceeding.
Second, it recognizes that this can be difficult work mostly because all disputes involve a blend of legal questions, practical questions, financial circumstances, and emotional involvement. But Collaborative Practice does more than simply recognize this reality, it actively embraces the involvement in the process of other professionals appropriate to the subject matter of the dispute in a mutually agreed to, neutral role of providing information.
This allows the parties to spend their time working out acceptable resolutions to the conflict instead of focusing on “who’s expert is ‘right’”. This provides a focused effort at a productive resolution for virtually any type of conflict that would otherwise end up in court. The agreement they create can then also be filed in court like any other settlement agreement.
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals offers a similar concise description here.
Collaborative Practice has grown tremendously since it was introduced by attorney Stu Webb in the early 1990s. And thus there is a large and growing supply of information about the practice.
This page is a starting point with some general resources. We’ll add resources as often as we can. Collaborative Practice is growing very quickly!
We’ve done a few interviews about the process and it’s benefits. You can listen to those on BlogTalkRadio by clicking HERE.
Stu Webb is the man who started it all. Here’s an interview he did in 2008:
Are there specific types of ‘disputes’ for which Collaborative Practice works particularly well? Essentially, if the parties who are in conflict will have to (or want to) still have a relationship going forward, Collaborative Practice is ideal – family business disputes, Probate or Estate challenges, Divorce, Pre-Nuptial agreements.
It can also be very beneficial where the relationship isn’t direct or as obvious – employment disputes, malpractice complaints for example where how the dispute is resolved with this employee or this patient can have a positive impact on how others act toward the employer or professional.
You can find out more about these “other than Divorce” uses of Collaborative Practice from Global Collaborative Law Practice.