Frequently Asked Questions
How is Collaborative Law different from other means of resolving legal disputes?
In a collaborative process, everyone works together as a team seeking solutions that meet the needs of each of the parties and can be agreed to be each of the parties. It is the parties that make the decisions.
In a collaborative process, the parties and both lawyers agree to be respectful, open and honest with each other. The parties and the lawyers work cooperatively with one another rather than against one another.
In a collaborative process, the parties have a greater control of the process than they would in litigation. The parties decide together such things as what is to be discussed, when it is to be discussed and how information is to be gathered and exchanged. It is the parties that decide when decisions are to be made and how decisions are to be made.
Collaborative solutions can be more flexible to fit the unique needs of the parties in conflict. The parties know better than anyone what will work for them. The flexibility of collaborative solutions may also better meet the needs of others that are affected by the conflict between the parties.
The collaborative process can be less expensive than litigation and may produce results more quickly than litigation. In the collaborative process some costs, such as the production of paperwork and the cost of obtaining expert advice or reports can be reduced. By managing the process, the parties can also manage the cost and the time it takes to reach a conclusion.
The collaborative process promotes better communication between people and works to provide the parties with skills not only to resolve the current conflict but also to be able to better resolve conflict in the future.
Unlike mediation, in the collaborative process all parties have legal representation during the process.
What if no agreement can be reached?
If either party decides to withdraw from the process they will give prompt notice to the other party through their lawyer. The parties also agree to wait at least 30 days before any court hearing to give the parties time to get new lawyers. An action can be taken earlier if a party satisfies the court that it is an emergency that cannot wait 30 days.
The collaborative process depends on the parties being willing to freely disclose information and share options. The rules concerning confidentiality and the collaborative lawyers not representing the parties if the process ends are in place to ensure that someone who participates in a collaborative process is not at a disadvantage if the process is ended and the matter goes to court.
Does Collaborative Law Work?
Yes. Experience suggests that the vast majority of the parties who embark upon a Collaborative process end up settling cases more quickly, at lower cost and more satisfactorily to the people involved. In places where Collaborative Law has become the norm, like Medicine Hat, Alberta, court lists have dropped by 70% to 80%. The settlement rate where the parties sign a Collaborative contract is well over 90%. Why does Collaborative Law work?:
a. People do not want to go to court yet many people end up in court. By committing to a collaborative process, the parties control the outcome and ensure that the agreement reached suites their unique situation.
b. Lawyers who practice Collaborative Law have taken extra training and are required to continually upgrade their skills.
As well, the collaborative process permits the parties to develop many more options and more creative options than are possible through the court process. Judges have limited power and authority as to what they can do. People working together have unlimited possibilities.
What about the Role of Other Professions?
Collaborative Law permits a holistic approach. The involvement of other professionals such as accountants, psychologists, business valuators, social workers, appraisers, family counsellors, and financial planners is encouraged. The only way that a consultant will be involved is if both parties agree.
Is Collaborative Law More Expensive?
No. First eliminate court fees and disbursements. Second, it's a faster process and much less legal time than litigation. Third, clients pay for actual meeting time and see how that time is being spent. Clients remain in control of the process and progress ... There is nothing hidden and lawyers bills are not a surprise.
Why Should I Trust the Lawyers?
The lawyers and everyone involved in the dispute are working as a team and not against each other. Your common goal, as a foursome, is to determine the interest of the parties and find meaningful answers. The lawyers will bring different skills to the process than those of the adversarial system - skills which are proven to open up communication lines and inject honesty and sincerity in the dialogue. You are an integral part of this process; your sense of trust will come from your own experience and observations.
How Can I Contact a Lawyer Who Participates in Collaborative Law?
To contact a Collaborative Law Professional, please visit our Find a Professional page.
To contact our organization, please click here.