A process in which disputes are attempted to be settled using trained lawyers to assist the parties in working together according to the negotiation principles of principled negotiation, to find the best scenario that will work for both parties. Collaborative law cases are not reviewed or managed in court. If there is a failure to reach an agreement and one of the parties seeks to go to court, it is the end of the collaborative process and the attorneys of each party are also unable to represent their clients in court.

What is it?

Collaborative law consists of two clients and their respective attorneys working together toward the goal of reaching an efficient, fair and comprehensive settlement of all issues.

All negotiations take place in four-way settlement meetings that both clients and both lawyers attend. Principled negotiation is governing the process. The lawyers cannot go to court or threaten to go to court. Settlement is the only agenda. If either client goes to court, both collaborative lawyers are disqualified from further participation. Each client has built-in legal advice and advocacy during negotiations, and each lawyer’s job includes guiding the client toward reasonable resolutions. The legal advice is an integral part of the process, but all the decisions are made by the clients.

The parties sign a collaborative (law) participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter;

  • “The parties voluntarily disclose all information which is relevant and material to the matter that must be decided”;
  • “The parties agree to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement”;
  • “Each party must be represented by a lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding”; (and)
  • “The parties may engage mental health and financial professionals whose engagement terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding”.