Civil Collaborative Law

Horenstein Law Group is committed to solving its client’s problems. Quite often, the dissolution of a business relationship or dispute about a contract or lease can be resolved quickly, confidentially, and most effectively, out of court. Horenstein Law Group’s Civil Collaborative Law practice is designed to help clients do that.

Civil Collaborative Law is a voluntary dispute resolution process in which the parties to a business or government dispute agree to work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Each client has the support and guidance of his or her own lawyer, trained in the Collaborative process.

The process begins with the parties and their Collaborative attorneys signing an agreement that requires all parties and their attorneys to:

1. Negotiate in good faith,
2. Act respectfully toward one another,
3. Disclose all relevant information,
4. Use jointly hired neutral experts, if necessary, and
5. Protect the confidentiality of Collaborative communications.

The Collaborative Law process typically involves four to five meetings between all parties involved. While the parties are working Collaboratively, they pledge not to threaten or to file litigation in court to resolve the issue. A party may stop the Collaborative Law process at any time, but, if that happens, the Collaborative lawyers must withdraw and cannot represent either party in any related litigation. Neutral experts involved in the Collaborative process are also prohibited from participating in related litigation.

 

Civil Collaborative Law is the application of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (RCW chapter 7.77) to client-centered meetings that resolve civil (i.e. not family law or divorce) disputes respectfully without going to court. 

If one of the parties is a government agency, the process is subject to discovery via a Public Records request.  RCW chapter 42.56

 

The Collaborative Law process requires a significant shift in thinking for attorneys and all parties involved. Collaborative Law focuses on needs, interests, and enduring solutions, unlike the traditional legal processes which focus on rights, entitlements and winning. Secrecy and leverage are abandoned for full disclosure and authenticity. Civil Collaborative Law parties work together to transform their business relationship through a mutually-beneficial, enduring solution.

 

Lessons Learned: Collaborative Law compared to other options

 

Lower Cost: The Collaborative Law process is generally less expensive and less time-consuming than litigation, arbitration, or mediation.

 

Client Involvement: In the Collaborative process, you will play a vital part of the team. You will help define the problem, identify solutions, plan the outcomes, schedule the meetings, etc. You have greater involvement in the decision-making and greater control over the outcome.

 

Support From Your Professional Team: Your attorney and all other professional members of the team are hired to work cooperatively together with you and the other party(-ies) to resolve issues and provide unbiased, frank advice.

Win-Win Approach: Collaborative attorneys believe in abundance, creativity, and win-win solutions. The Collaborative process takes a positive approach and invests in transforming, rather than destroying, business relationships.

 

Flexibility to Create a Solution That Fits You:  The Collaborative process encourages creative solutions that meet your needs and interests, including remedies that may not be available in litigation.

Confidentiality: The Collaborative process is confidential and private. The facts that led to the dispute and the resulting solution will not be filed or recorded or aired in public, without your permission. (If one or more of the parties to the Collaborative Law process is a government agency, the proceedings and documents may be discoverable through a public records request. Please ask HLG for details about your specific situation.)


What happens if one side or the other hides documents or is dishonest in some way?

 

This could happen. It also can and does happen in litigation and conventional legal representation. The difference is, you are more likely to know about it in the Collaborative process because the Collaborative Law agreement requires the party’s attorney to withdraw if a party is not being honest or is not participating in good faith.


Why must the Collaborative attorneys withdraw if one of the parties decides to go to court?

 

Requiring the Collaborative attorney to withdraw if one party decides to go to court protects the confidentiality of the Collaborative meetings and guarantees that all participating attorneys are committed to the process. All parties and their attorneys are equally and fully invested in finding a workable solution.


What's the difference between Collaborative Law and mediation?

 

In mediation, a single neutral third party (the mediator) meets with the parties. The mediator listens to the parties and tries to help them work out a solution that works for everyone. The mediator cannot give either party legal advice and cannot be an advocate for either side. The parties may be represented by lawyers, but it is not required. During mediation, the parties may or may not meet in the same room and the parties are not contractually required to fully disclose all relevant information. If a settlement is reached, the mediator generally does not prepare the resulting agreement.

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