What is Collaborative Practice? Find A Professional Sample Agreement Links
What is Collaborative Practice?

In essence the two "settlement lawyers," with their clients, change the context or the framework for the negotiations. The Collaborative model clearly states that the adjudicative model - court - is not an option. There is no fall back to a judge or other arbiter to assist the clients and the lawyers in their negotiations.

The primary currency of litigation is the threat or use of power. The element of power is removed from the Collaborative Process. The clients' and the lawyers' only goal is a settlement acceptable to both clients. By definition the lawyers' focus shifts profoundly to a new and more constructive role.

The Collaborative Process moves forward via carefully structured and managed four-way settlement meetings, preceded by considerable preparation between lawyer and client, and between lawyer and lawyer. In addition to the usual identification, investigation and development of issues the lawyer must work with the client and the other lawyer to anticipate and manage conflict and to guide the negotiation process. The lawyers also encourage the clients to take a considered and broad view in setting goals and priorities, and identifying what is important to each client. The lawyers teach the clients how to use Interest-Based, rather than positional bargaining to achieve an acceptable settlement.

When discussing the Collaborative Process option with clients, it is very important for the lawyer to let their client know that the process requires:

  1. Reviewing the Collaborative Practice Contract, the Collaborative Practice Process and Expectations of Clients and Professionals thoroughly;
  2. Identifying the concerns and what is important to each client (their interests);
  3. Determining what each client needs to talk about and questions that each client needs to answer (their issues);
  4. Assisting the client in gathering information the clients need to make informed decisions; and
  5. Assisting all four parties to the contract to reach a settlement that is acceptable to both clients.
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