Collaborative Practice is a conflict resolution method in which the participants focus their efforts on reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. Professionals are retained during the collaborative process for the sole purpose of assisting their clients in attaining this goal.
The client and professionals agree to work respectfully and in good faith to gather all information needed to reach an agreement, including developing the interests of each client. The participants do not engage in expensive legal procedures to obtain information. The clients and their collaborative attorneys agree from the beginning that they will produce all necessary information and documents voluntarily and in a timely fashion. Hiding documents or unnecessary delays are not permitted. Non-legal professionals are usually retained as joint neutrals and work together with the participants to define the scope of their assignment and to gather information.
The process typically includes various meetings at which the clients and professionals meet together to discuss the issues, make any necessary interim arrangements, and to plan for information gathering (not every professional will be present at every conference.) These conferences continue to be utilized to exchange and clarify information and to brainstorm possible options for resolution. The clients and the professionals focus on educating everyone regarding the underlying information, each client's interests and possible solutions. Out of this process, a settlement which meets the approval of all clients can be fashioned. Negotiations are based upon efforts to find options that will serve the interests of all clients and other affected persons, and if applicable, create the possibility for a positive continuing relationship.
The clients and their collaborative attorneys agree that they will not go to court during the time they are working towards settlement. If the clients are unable to reach an agreement, the collaborative attorneys and other professionals withdraw and litigation attorneys take the dispute to court.
Collaborative practice started with one attorney in Minnesota in 1990 and has now spread across the United States, Canada, and internationally. Although it has primarily developed in the field of family law, efforts are now being made to move collaborative practice into other fields. Collaborative practice started in Sonoma County in 1999 primarily as an attorney centered method in family law. More recently, a multidisciplinary family law practice group formed. Interest has grown in spreading collaborative practice to other areas of law. A recent training was devoted to the use of collaborative process in estate planning and probate.
The Collaborative Council of the Redwood Empire is a new multi-disciplinary, multi-field group open to all professionals interested in collaborative conflict resolution. The group includes family, probate and civil attorneys, mental health practitioners, financial experts and other types of experts that may be involved in a collaborative conflict resolution process. Monthly meetings provide an opportunity to learn more about collaborative practice as well as to become better acquainted with other collaborative professionals. Additional training and continuing education are provided by the Council. The Council also coordinates a public relations and educational campaign regarding the use of collaborative dispute resolution.
If you are interested in contacting a collaborative professional, please see our list of members
To learn more about Collaborative Practice in Probate, click here.
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