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6 January 2015
I have written previously on the subject of Collaborative Law but the subject is so important and one about which I am passionate that I think it is worthy of repetition. Being a Collaborative Lawyer is like having the best kept secret. To some extent it is troubling and worrying that it is not more widely known about and more often utilised as the means by which family difficulties can be resolved. For those of you who are not familiar, Collaborative Law is a process through which settlement is reached by both parties with their solicitors using fourway face to face discussions in a calm environment conducive to frank discussions in which the parties have control over the timing and pace of the process.
The aim and focus of all involved is to reach and negotiate a settlement and this unique process gives clients a higher degree of satisfaction and settlement rates. The process itself is far less emotionally damaging and draining than traditional methods, especially court proceedings. To start everyone signs a Participation Agreement, which is a contractual commitment between the lawyer and the client such that if the Collaborative process broke down both clients have to instruct new solicitors to undertake the traditional methods from the outset. The investment therefore in the process is considerable but it allows clients and their lawyers the freedom to speak openly and freely without fear or concern about the strength and weaknesses of their case. It focuses the clients on their underlying needs rather than the traditional rights and entitlements. The Collaborative Law Model allows parties to engage with other professionals, such as Consultants, IFA’s, Pension Actuaries, Life Coaches and Counsellors and therefore the process is much more holistic in meeting all of the clients needs when going through a very traumatic time. Anyone going through a divorce or relationship breakdown requires their legal and financial needs to be met but also their emotional needs. Research has shown that the process leads to high levels of both client and lawyer satisfaction.
It therefore becomes somewhat frustrating as a Collaborative Lawyer as well as a traditionallLawyer when more people do not take up the opportunity of this process given its benefits, which far outweigh the disadvantages.
As lawyers we need to acknowledge the importance of litigation for some clients, however for suitable clients the Collaborative Law process works very well producing great client and lawyer satisfaction. I think it is important that Collaborative Lawyers believe and buy into the model so that we can explain its potential benefits to all suitable clients. More needs to be done to educate the wider public and promote this practice and hence why I felt it was important for the above message to be repeated.
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