Introduction to Collaborative Law
Described simply, the collaborative process consists of parties and their lawyers who sign a binding agreement that they will resolve the dispute outside of court. The parties agree they will not threaten or engage in litigation while they are engaged in the collaborative process. While no one forfeits their right to go to court, if a party chooses to litigate, then the attorneys must withdraw from further representation of the parties. This creates an economic incentive to work cooperatively, as well as engage in creative problem-solving. Further, unlike litigation in which negotiations are handled by the attorneys, in the collaborative process negotiations are done by the parties and facilitated by the attorneys (typically during four-way meetings). Courts are used only to file generic pleadings, final judgments, or settlements, where necessary. By focusing on settlement from the beginning, the parties avoid draining and costly court battles.