In Collaborative Law, lawyers who have had special training help parties work cooperatively to resolve disputes out of court using a variety of tools that are absent from typical negotiations. In many cases, particularly those involving divorce, a conflict coach whose job is to manage the process and any strong emotions that arise also participates. The evolving discipline of Collaborative Practice is relatively new: it first arose in the 1980s and is still not as familiar as other ADR processes like mediation or arbitration.
Collaborative law is still best known as a divorce-related process. The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals has published a “Collaborative Divorce Knowledge Kit” with more information that you can download here. However, it is increasingly finding use in the business world, with variations from the divorce model that depend on the type of case. See my recent article, Collaborative Law: A New Way to Resolve Civil Disputes, and the recently adopted Principles for Collaborative Business Law Dispute Resolution. You can also find further information on the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council website. We provide collaborative law services for both family and business cases.
Using a Collaborative law process is of the few ways that a party can have input into the type of attorney its counterpart retains: an attorney who is seeking to solve a problem, not scorch the earth.
For several years, I have been involved in developing professional ethics for collaborative attorneys on a national level. Professionals may be interested the Model Ethical Guidelines for Attorneys in Collaborative Law Matters available elsewhere on this site.