Collaborative law has been around for some time; however, new developments have recently arisen in this practice which are both useful and applicable to numerous areas of law. Recently, the Collaborative Professionals Association of Saskatchewan has evolved to the point where it utilizes an inter-disciplinary process. This new process involves bringing in collaboratively trained financial experts, psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals to assist parties in resolving their issues and disputes. This inter-disciplinary approach allows parties to have a neutral third party provide financial or other relevant information to assist with the resolution of their outstanding disputes.
Collaborative law is a dispute resolution process which is facilitated by collaboratively trained lawyers. These lawyers, with the assistance of other professionals, assist participants in resolving conflicts using cooperative strategies as opposed to adversarial methods. Through a series of group meetings, collaborative lawyers and their clients are encouraged to identify needs and underlying interests to generate solutions that meet those needs and interests. At the outset of any collaborative law process, all parties enter into a written agreement to negotiate a resolution of the issue or issues, without going to court. The contract is between all collaborative participants solidifying this promise, while eliminating the need for positional bargaining. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties must find new litigation lawyers to assist in determining the issue. Any neutral professionals that were involved in providing advice during the collaborative process are not able to participate in the litigation unless both parties agree.
Some strengths of utilizing this type of process are as follows:
- It facilitates exchange and understanding of information between parties;
- It is based on voluntary full disclosure;
- It explores a range of possibilities and provides flexibility in reaching a solution;
- Participants have control over the outcome and the pace with which it is reached;
- It can provide a greater sense of satisfaction to both parties;
- It may take significantly less time than going to court;
- It may be less expensive than going to court;
- It takes your non-legal needs and what matters most to you into consideration (as opposed to considering only legal issues);
- It allows for greater privacy because the proceedings do not form part of the public record;
- A collaborative solution often results in a better long-term result; and
- Skilled professionals guide you through every step of the process.
Note: the above-noted information was obtained from www.collaborativefamilylawyers.ca and www.collabsask.com
There are many benefits to this process. This process can be utilized in all areas of the law with respect to any legal issue.
Satisfaction of Collaborative Law Clients
The satisfaction of clients is a noteworthy and additional strength of the collaborative law process.
Whether one utilizes the avenue of litigation or collaborative law, nearly all cases will settle before trial. Most litigants, however, will experience years of litigation before coming to this eventual compromise. In addition, this eventual compromise will often come after much time, money, and a great deal of emotional stress has been expended. This can leave litigants disenchanted with the legal system.
There is some evidence that this feeling of disenchantment is less common among those clients who use the collaborative law process. One telling survey was done by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals which found that:
- Seventy-five (75%) percent of clients were somewhat or extremely satisfied with collaborative practice overall; and
- For the 90% of clients whose cases did settle, 79% were somewhat or extremely satisfied with the outcome of their case.
As one can see, there appears to be a great deal of satisfaction with the process and outcomes that are achieved as a result.
Although this type of procedure may not work for every situation or for every person, it is certainly worth looking into. At McDougall Gauley LLP, James Morrison and Kate Joa are also collaboratively trained professionals.
If you are interested in obtaining more information regarding this type of practice, more information can be found at: www.collabsask.com.
*Note: this blog is written in collaboration with Samantha McKinnon who focuses her practice on family law, and also sees the value in collaborative practice.
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