A Collaborative Law Success Story is a four-part video series describing a successful resolution of a divorce between John and Diane through the Collaborative Law process. Below is Part 4 and the transcript for Part 4:

Collaborative Law is one way of resolving disputes but how does it compare to other forms of alternate dispute resolution such as attorney negotiation and mediation?

In a typical negotiation, John and Diane would have had the opportunity to express their positions. However, the interest based model of Collaborative Law looks below the surface. Below the surface, the Collaborative Law team found the interest that John and Diane shared: protecting their children.
For John and Diane the Collaborative Law process helped them model solving a difficult conflict over the introduction of Diane's boyfriend to the children. Without the assistance of the coach and their individual attorneys to prepare them for this conversation they would not have had this foundation for working together in the future to resolve parenting issues. Ultimately this benefits John and Diane's children and despite how difficult that conversation was for John, he considers the collaborative law processes a success.
Collaborative Law has a success story of its own. As of 2010 more than 30,000 professionals have received Collaborative training.  The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, or IACP, has over 5000 members in 24 countries.  IACP hosts trainings multiple times per year both in the United States and abroad and local groups, like the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council, MCLC, provide both introductory and advanced trainings in their communities every year.
There are now 42 states with Collaborative practice groups and in recent years more and more law schools are including Collaborative Law in their curricula.  Collaborative Law is also spreading to communities of all different income levels Numerous states and countries have started 
programs providing access to Collaborative Law services to families 
of low income and modest means and there have been other such programs in 
other areas of the law including a pilot program in Massachusetts that 
paired Collaborative law professionals with employment discrimination cases, and both IACP and MCLC are exploring opportunities to continue expanding access to Collaborative Law services.
MCLC and other Collaborative practice groups specifically train and certify professionals in in the Collaborative process which has been 
proven to work.  Proper training and certification in the process 
are essential to developing a successful Collaborative practice.
Many use the word "collaborative" to describe what they do without understanding how the process truly works. Those cases are less likely to resolve through the "collaborative" process than cases where the true Collaborative process is followed. In addition to thinking anyone can do it, there are some other myths about Collaborative Law that we'd like to dispel. 
Collaborative Law is not the same as mediation with lawyers.  Mediation with lawyers, especially in the business context, often involves the parties in separate rooms and the mediator going back and forth. In Collaborative Law the parties participate in all substantive negotiations and the coach is completely transparent.
Collaborative Law is also not the same as lawyer negotiated settlement conference. Negotiations between lawyers lack transparency and a disqualification clause.  If one side has relevant information that the other side does not, then there's always a chance that it won't be shared or even if it is shared, that the only  intention is to use the information in court. This causes many negotiations to have a weight of distrust to them that cannot be overcome. Collaborative Law eliminates these obstacles. 
Collaborative Law is not just for high income clients. Collaborative Law is a client centered process that can be tailored to the needs of each 
individual case. Collaborative Law can help clients of any means find informed solutions through the efficient use of each professionals' individual expertise and pilot programs across the globe are expanding to ensure that pro bono and modest means clients have access to Collaborative services as well.
Some practitioners believe that the disqualification clause and the lack of zealous advocacy is unethical.  The American Bar Association has issued a formal opinion 07-447, that limited scope representation is permissible with informed consent by the client. 
Limited scope representation otherwise known as unbundling is popular in many contexts and allows parties to have more choice over what exactly they want their lawyers to do.  Collaborative Law is just another version of limited scope representation and as long as the risks and benefits are clear to the client they can choose a process that they believe has more benefits than risks. 
John and Diane experienced how the team process of Collaborative Law created a positive atmosphere for them to make decisions. John's attorney expressed to him that he often finds Collaborative Law to be more professionally fulfilling than traditional litigation because of the positive focus.
Reducing the tension between John and Diane ultimately benefited their children and that was a goal John, Diane and all the professionals kept at the highest priority.
John and Diane were able to find the time to heal themselves by controlling their own timeline and were satisfied with the outcome because they felt like it was their own choice throughout. Finally, John and Diane were both happy that their fights, fears, and concerns all remained private throughout the process.
Do you know someone getting divorced or who is considering a lawsuit?  The average lawsuit in America takes three years to complete.
While not everyone knows the statistics, in your gut you all know that court isn't a place you want to go. We expect people to have a negative experience in court but what if conflict resolution doesn't have to be 
that way? What if both sides could walk away feeling heard and have the conflict resolved?
Tell them about Collaborative Law and maybe they will.  For more information about Collaborative Law visit our web site at MassCLC.org or the web site for IACP at CollaborativePractice.org



Professional Spotlight

Profession(s): Family Law Attorney, Mediator