Collaborative law was created by Stu Webb, a Minnesota family lawyer, in the late 1980s. Currently, principles and methods of collaborative law are applied in many civil contexts in the United States: probate, employment, medical error, and business among others.
In collaborative law practice, the parties and their lawyers sign a contract (a participation agreement) as a commitment to work towards an out-of-court settlement. If the parties are unable to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement and court proceedings must be filed, the collaborative lawyers withdraw their services and the parties find litigation lawyers to start the court process.
With this backdrop, collaborative lawyers practice interest-based negotiation, and accept the challenge of using creative problem-solving techniques to resolve all areas of disputes. Communication is respectful and the process is not only settlement-focused but also long-term relationship focused.
Thus far in Canada, collaborative process is mainly practiced in the area of family law. There have been lively discussions among lawyers of all kinds, professionals in diverse areas, as well as members of the judiciary who are committed to its wider application.
Please check back here for updates on collaborative civil law in Canada.