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In 1990 the trend-setting attorney Stu Webb of Minnesota conceived the concept of “Collaborative Law Practice”. The collaborative law practice is a dispute resolution process for individuals looking to engage in an open process of dialogue to resolve legal issues. The practice is utilized successfully in divorce matters however its use is growing rapidly into new arenas. The process can be best utilized where the parties are seeking resolution through a dignified and civil process. Collaborative law requires that both parties enter into a participation agreement that bars their attorneys from continued representation in the event the settlement process fails.
The practice is a step in the direction of an alternative litigation process. It assists the parties in positive resolution as opposed to argumentative or adversarial negotiation. Under this type of legal agreement, both of the parties, i.e. attorneys and negotiators focus on negotiation or collaboration to attain resolution. All pertinent information is shared in a transparent process seeking resolution.
In August of 2007 the American Bar Association issued a statement to address the heated debate on the potentiality of unethical practice. The ABA’s formal opinion labels the practice of Collaborative Law permissible as a limited scope representation.