Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which parties may resolve disputes peacefully and respectfully without going to court. In the collaborative process, parties are represented by attorneys who assist them in reaching a settlement agreement. This process is non-adversarial in that parties pledge not to go to court and begin the litigation process.
Collaborative law is frequently used in family law situations such as divorce and custody disputes; however, collaborative law is also an effective means of resolving business disputes, and other civil disputes.
The process works as follows: Parties meet privately with their attorneys and then a four-way meeting is established to begin the problem-solving process. Sometimes, additional professionals, who are also collaboratively trained, work with the parties by providing support in their various areas of expertise. The professionals might be CPA’s, financial planners, mental health professionals or child specialists, to name a few.
The core goal of the collaborative process is to promote mutual respect between the parties for the long term and, in family law cases, to protect the interests and well-being of children who might be involved. In business settings, collaborative law helps to preserve business relationships and can provide a modicum of confidentiality, unlike litigation, while expediting a resolution.
The collaborative process is different from the process of going to court in that, in the collaborative process, parties who choose to proceed collaboratively do not rely upon a judge to make the ultimate determination about the parties’ children, finances, and property.
I served as the past President and co-founder of the Collaborative Professionals of Baltimore, a practice group that I co-founded in 2012. I was the past President of the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council, a not for profit association comprised of collaborative practice groups throughout Maryland, which was dedicated to supporting, connecting and uniting practice groups, for advocacy and expanded use of the Collaborative Process in Maryland.
Please click on the links page for resources on collaborative practice.
Books About Collaborative Law
Abney, Sherrie R. Avoiding Litigation: A Guide to Civil Collaborative Law, Trafford Publishing, 2006.
Ahrons, Constance. The Good Divorce, Harper Paperbacks, 1998.
Ahrons, Constance. We’re Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce, Harper Paperbacks, 2005.
Bishop, Gillian. A client’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce.
Brumley, Janet P. Divorce Without Disaster, PSG Books, 2004.
Cameron, Nancy. Collaborative Practice: Deepening the Dialogue, The CLE Society of British Columbia, 2004.
Cochran, Cate. Reconcilable Differences: Marriages End, Families Don’t, Second Story Press, 2007.
Cook, Nancy Douglas. Maggie in the Middle, Scholastic, 1976.
Eddy, William. High Conflict People in Legal Disputes, Janis Publications, 2006.
Fisher, Roger, Ury, William, and Patton, Bruce. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in, Penguin, 1991.
Gutterman, Sheila. Collaborative Law: A New Model for Dispute Resolution, Bradford Publishing, 2004.
Johnston, Janet, Roseby, Vivienne, and Kuehnle, Kathryn. In the Name of the Child, Springer Publishing, 2009.
Shields, Richard, Ryan, Judith, and Smith, Victoria. Collaborative Family Law: Another Way to Resolve Family Disputes, Thomson Carswell, 2003.
Stone, Douglas, Patton, Bruce, and Heen, Sheila (Harvard Negotiation Project). Difficult Conversations: How to discuss What Matters Most, Viking Press, 1999.
Stoner, Katherine. Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation and Collaborative Divorce, Nolo Press, 2006.
Tannen, Deborah. The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue, Ballantine, 1999.
Tannen, Deborah. You Don’t Understand, Harper Paperbacks, 2001.
Tesler, Pauline and Thompson, Peggy. Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move On With Your Life, Regan Books/Harper Collins, 2006.
Ury, William L., Jeanne M. and Golberg, Stephen B. Getting Disputes Resolved, Designing Systems to Cut the Costs of Conflict, Program on Negotiation, 1993.
Ury, William L. Getting Past No, Negotiating in Difficult Situations, Bantam, 1993.