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Civil Collaborative Law


Photo Paulette DeKelver

What is Civil Collaborative Law? 

Civil Collaborative Law is a way of resolving disputes where two lawyers work collaboratively as a team until an agreement is reached. The process follows a series of interest-based, face-to-face meetings aimed at getting to a settlement. 

The focus is on what matters to the clients as opposed to what matters to the lawyers and other professionals, like financial analysts or mental health professionals may be involved in the collaborative process. 

Being collaborative, team focused, and interest-based is critical to the process and lawyers are trained in collaborative processes and mediation. 

Before embarking on a collaborative process, the lawyers will assess the situation to ensure the situation is appropriate for the collective process. 

Files that lend themselves to collaborative law involve areas where relationship or reputation after the dispute is of paramount importance. These include: 

  • employment,

  • wills and estates,

  • shareholder and partnership disputes,

  • commercial relationship such as supplier/customer,

  • and any other areas where parties want to preserve their relationships.  

if the matter does not settle, the parties  will have to start over with new lawyers. This encourages early and full disclosure and a commitment to proceeding in good faith, with respect, and transparency. 


A client meets with their collaborative lawyer and the lawyer considers the case, advises on strenths and weaknesses, and assess fit for the collaborative process.

Lawyers meet to prepare for the first four-way meeting.

Clients meet with respective lawyers to prepare for first four-way meeting.

First four-way meeting. Topics at the four-way meetings will typically follow this route: Concerns, Interests, Options, Proposals, Agreement.

Clients debrief with respective lawyers.

Lawyers debrief and plan for subsequent meetings.

Process of preparing/debriefing/meeting proceeds until resolution.


To learn more about Civil Collaborative Law

follow the link below. 

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