The Role of the Collaborative Law Attorney

The Collaborative Law process focuses on constructive problem-solving rather than on litigating. Because of this, the job of the Collaborative Law attorney looks very different from that of a traditional attorney. The following will help you understand the differences between the roles of the Collaborative Law attorney and the traditional attorney. Participants can take comfort in the fact these principles apply to both attorneys, not just their own.

Your Collaborative Law attorney will:

Advise you about the legal issues involved with your case. Your Collaborative Law  attorney has the same duty as a traditional attorney to alert you to the relevant legal issues in your case and a reasonable range of outcomes.

Be your negotiating partner while also empowering you to negotiate on your behalf.

Help you understand and consider the other person’s point of view.

Help you approach the case in a constructive, problem-solving way rather than an adversarial, win-lose way.

Work with you to help you identify your interests. An “interest” is something that is fundamentally important to you. Your interests are the underlying reasons why you ask for something (your “position”).

Help you identify all available options and help you determine which option or options best meet your interests. Your Collaborative attorney will also help you consider the other person’s interests and help figure out how an agreement can maximize both of your interests.

Work with you to develop effective negotiation and communication skills.

Your Collaborative Law attorney will not:

Attack the other participant or make them look bad.

Approach the case in a combative, win-lose way.

File a case in court or threaten to file a case in court (except that all documents will be filed at the end of the case after everyone has signed them – no court appearance is required in most jurisdictions).

Hide or conceal assets.

Take advantage of errors, mistakes or misstatements by the other participant or anyone involved with the case.

To summarize:

The Collaborative attorney’s job is the same as the traditional attorney’s job – to represent his or her client as best they can. But “successful” representation looks somewhat different in the Collaborative process. Most Collaborative attorneys genuinely want an outcome that works well for the entire family. The attorney’s first duty is to his or her client, but most Collaborative attorneys want a positive outcome for the other client as well.  


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