The collaborative law process promotes the role of lawyers as problem solvers and counselors. A lawyer will promote negotiation that focuses on underlying concerns. In this process, there is no goal of winning an adversarial battle. Instead, lawyers encourage the parties to communicate openly and honestly about what is important about an issue. This allows cooperation and understanding of the other party’s interests, needs, and concerns.
The collaborative lawyer is not neutral; instead, each lawyer acts as a resource, a counselor and advocate for his or her client while promoting the collaborative process. The lawyer will advise his or her client on which laws apply, help identify specific issues and concerns, assist the client in organizing and understanding the sharing of documents and information with the other party, and assist in analyzing consequences of different choices. Through the collaborative law process, the lawyer will also promote respectful communication, further cooperation, and advance reason and reality in difficult emotional situations.
A defining feature of lawyers in the process is the requirement that if a collaborative law effort ends without a settlement or resolution, the collaborative lawyer is disqualified from representing the party in court proceedings involving the same issues. The lawyer will understand that court is not an option and will therefore refrain from any adversarial behavior that would work against finding a settlement or resolution. A collaborative lawyer will also take advantage of mediation and the assistance of neutral experts when a third opinion is needed.
The main goal of collaborative law is to maintain peaceful and respectful attitudes and behavior between parties while resolving difficult family and legal situations. A collaborative lawyer is trained in non-adversarial negotiation in order to promote productive discussion. The lawyer also seeks to build a settlement on areas of agreement rather than perpetuate disagreement. By helping you understand the situation and making sure there is no confusion between the parties, a collaborative lawyer helps everything run more smoothly. The lawyer is there to provide you and the other party reassurance that the issues are being resolved to the best of your ability, and everyone is working together to reach a settlement in an honest and respectful manner.