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The Uniform Collaborative Law Act is also pending in
The goal of collaborative law is to encourage parties to engage in problem solving rather than using adversarial techniques to find solutions to conflicts. Collaborative law is a voluntary, contractually based alternative dispute resolution process for parties who seek to negotiate a resolution of their matter rather than having a ruling imposed upon them by a court or arbitrator. Collaborative law developed as a form of alternative dispute resolution more than 20 years ago and is used widely in family law practice. As the benefits of collaborative law become evident, its use has spread to other areas of the law, including insurance and contract settlement.
The distinctive feature of collaborative law is that parties are represented by lawyers during negotiations. Collaborative lawyers do not represent the party in court, but only for the purpose of negotiating agreements. The parties also agree in advance that their lawyers are disqualified from further representing the parties if the collaborative law process ends without agreement. Parties thus retain collaborative lawyers for the limited purpose of acting as advocates and counselors during the negotiation process. They have the right to terminate collaborative law at any time without giving a reason.
Parties who sign a collaborative law participation agreement create strong mutual incentives for settlement. They must bear the costs of engaging new counsel if collaborative law terminates as their collaborative lawyers must end their representation.
States have approached the regulation of collaborative law through a variety of means, including statutes, court rules, and independent boards. Since these approaches are varied, the standards governing collaborative law practice has become equally as varied. It has become evident that a national model would benefit the practice of collaborative law while protecting both lawyers and clients.
The Uniform Act standardizes the most important features of collaborative law participation, both to protect those who use collaborative law, and to encourage parties to enter into collaborative law. The Act provides minimum requirements for collaborative law agreements, which includes designation of collaborative lawyers.
Under the Act, courts or tribunals cannot order anyone to participate in collaborative law over that person's objection, thus insuring that participation is entirely voluntary.
The Act creates an evidentiary privilege for all collaborative law communications to facilitate candid discussions during the collaborative law process. All communications during the collaborative law process are confidential and cannot be introduced as evidence in court.
Collaborative law is an important and growing form of dispute resolution. The Uniform Collaborative Law Act's goal is to make collaborative law a visible and viable option for dispute resolution for parties who choose it voluntarily and with informed consent. Collaborative law is an attractive dispute resolution option for many parties, especially those who wish to maintain post dispute relationships with each other and minimize the costs of dispute resolution.
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