Frequently Asked Questions - Civil Collaborative Practice
» Read FAQs about Collaborative Practice in family law matters
Civil Collaborative Practice is an exciting and innovative new practice that uses collaborative strategies rather than adversary techniques to resolve disputes. The Collaborative process is currently most often used in family law matters; however, use of the Collaborative process in civil practice is gaining momentum.
What is Civil Collaborative Practice
Collaborative Practice is a term encompassing all of the models which have been developed, including those involving interdisciplinary teams of professionals trained to work together with the clients in resolving disputes respectfully, without going to court. At the heart of all of Collaborative cases is that each client has the support and guidance of his or her own lawyer, as well as access to additional professionals who can provide support in their areas of training. While Collaborative lawyers are always a part of collaboration, in Civil Collaborative Practice communication coaches, financial consultants, mediators and other professionals are retained to provide the clients with the highest quality service possible. The team of Collaborative Professionals uses strategies and techniques geared toward dispute resolution rather than adversarial proceedings.
Another key to Collaborative Practice is the agreement that once retained to work in the Collaborative process, the Collaborative lawyers will not represent the parties in litigation. If either client decides to litigate the issues, all of the members of the professional team must withdraw.
The same alternate dispute resolution principles that have preserved the integrity and dignity of families in conflict can also bring relief to those in disputes in many areas of civil and commercial law.
How does it work?
A typical collaborative case consists of two clients who each select independent Collaborative attorneys, working together as a team with the goal of resolving all of the issues. The parties and their attorneys enter into a formal agreement that under no circumstances will they go to court. Everyone agrees that they will settle the case utilizing the Collaborative process. If a settlement cannot be reached, or if one of the parties chooses to withdraw and seeks court intervention, both clients must hire new attorneys. This is important, as it insures that the collaborative attorneys are truly focusing on settlement rather than being distracted by thoughts of litigation strategies or positioning. The process requires a significant shift in thinking for the attorneys and the parties. New roles are based on the clients controlling the outcome, voluntary and good faith exchange of all relevant information and refraining from making threats of litigation.
What kinds of civil disputes are appropriate for Collaborative Practice?
In theory, any matter that can be litigated is capable of resolution through the Civil Collaborative Practice. Disputes in the areas of Business, Commercial, Construction, Contracts, Corporations, Elders, Estates and Trusts, Environmental, Franchise, Insurance, Intellectual Property, International Disputes, Labor, Mergers and Acquisitions, Partnerships, Personal Injury, Probate, Professional, Malpractice, Real Property Transactions, Securities/Antitrust, Sports and Entertainment, and Torts, are prime examples.
What advantages does Collaborative Practice offer over other process options?
Lower Cost: Collaborative Practice is generally less costly and time-consuming than litigation.
Client Involvement: The client is a vital part of the settlement team (consisting of both parties and both attorneys), hence clients have greater involvement in the decision-making which affects their lives.
Utilization of Interdisciplinary Team Supportive Approach: Each client is supported in a manner that allows the attorneys and all other professional members of the team to work cooperatively with one another in resolving issues that might otherwise infect non-legal aspects of the parties’ lives and relationships with each other.
Less Stress: The process is much less fear- and anxiety-provoking than traditional Court proceedings or the threat of such proceedings. Everyone can focus on settlement without the imminent threat of "going to Court."
Win-Win Climate: Collaborative Practice creates a positive climate. The opportunity exists for participants to work as problem-solving partners in a climate that facilitates "win-win" settlements.
Speed: Collaborative Practice can be much less time-consuming than cases which get bogged down by lengthy discovery, hearings and clogged court calendars.
Creativity: Collaborative Practice encourages creative solutions in resolving issues, including remedies that may not be available in litigation.
Clients in Charge: The non-adversarial nature of Collaborative Practice shifts decision