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What is Collaborative Practice?

Also sometimes known as Collaborative Law, it is a way for people to resolve disputes and reach decisions by creating options that meet the interests of all parties. Most people who are involved in any kind of dispute would rather reach an agreement with the other parties 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 disputes 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!

It supports this goal of actually resolving the dispute 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:

  1. They each pledge to participate in the work openly, honestly and in good faith.
  2. They each agree to give to the other whatever information is necessary or might be helpful for working on resolving the dispute.
  3. They agree that the work they do in the process is confidential.
  4. They will be working on this without involving the courts in any way. They will not even ‘threaten’ to go to court.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 CP 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.

This same approach can be used to allow people making decisions about important but sometimes difficult subjects to avoid conflict and court later on. Business or life partnerships can also benefit from the support the Collaborative process offers.  Read more about what types of situations are appropriate for Collaborative Practice.