The Benefits Of Being A Collaborative Lawyer

The Benefits Of Being A Collaborative Lawyer

Solicitors who practise family law and are trained collaborative lawyers will know the benefits that come with negotiating rather than litigating a separation or divorce.

It is beyond doubt that it is in the best interests of clients to come to agreements through negotiations rather than have decisions handed down by a court. Not only does it save time, expense and stress, but allows clients to feel included in the process and are generally happier with the result.  From the view of a lawyer, a client that leaves happier is one that is more likely to recommend and return to the practice.

Collaborative law is different to mediation in that each party, of a separating couple, will have a collaboratively trained lawyer, both of which will help their clients, in four-way meetings, to come to an agreement to family disputes.  Mediation involves meetings held by both parties, with a single impartial mediator. Mediators can be lawyers with training in mediation, but they are not able to offer any legal advice, but rather are there to encourage clients to settle their differences. A great benefit in collaborative law is the ability of a skilled lawyer to offer their client legal advice and negotiate during meetings rather than communicate through letters and emails. Many solicitors will know the building frustrations that can come from waiting for replies, often adding to the already tense situation – throw a letter into the mix, who’s tone can be easily misread, and it is a powder keg for more anger and less chance of civil negotiations.

Another benefit to collaborative law is that during meetings, each client is supported both emotionally and legally, meaning any imbalance of power between the couple can be levelled. Clients are generally fighting against each other; they need to be reminded that they need to work together to come to solutions to end the partnership without further grievance or expense. Independent financial advisors and child specialists can also be invited to the meetings to advise both clients as to the best options with finances and children. A collaborative lawyer will be able to guide clients to a point where they are able to come to rational decisions, this can be especially helpful when children are involved.

Before negotiations can take place, each party, their lawyer and any independent advisors sign a binding agreement whereby they commit to the process of negotiation in order to avoid litigation.  The unfortunate downfall is that if negotiations fail, the clients will have to find new lawyers and start negotiations again.

The organisation, Resolution encourages dispute resolution and collaborative law, promoting good practice by lawyers through their Code of Practice. The Law Society has adopted the Code and recognises it as a good practice for all family lawyers, supporting a ‘non-confrontational approach to family law’.  Requiring lawyers to deal with other parties in the negotiations in a civilised way and encouraging clients to put their differences aside to reach fair agreements, it is not a surprise that more lawyers are becoming members.

Resolution runs courses that enable lawyers to gain skills needed to be a collaborative practitioner, from foundation courses to negotiating skills and screening and safeguarding victims of domestic abuse.


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