Collaborative Practice Steps

(For Professional Use Only)

Building the Team

  • Once a client has decided that Collaborative Law is the process for them, help them become
    familiar with the list of Collaborative professionals on the CLARA website.
  • If necessary, offer them talking points to use with their spouse with regard to the Collaborative process.
  • The clients can begin by selecting either a neutral specialist or their two Collaborative attorneys. If beginning with a neutral specialist, they must both agree on this individual, who can then assist them in selecting two collaborative attorneys, one for each. If beginning with two attorneys, these individuals can assist them in selecting one or more neutral specialists. Neutral specialists to choose from include a facilitator, financial specialist and child specialist. Some facilitators have a mental health background. Some facilitators also work as child specialists.
  • Some items for consideration when deciding on neutrals include: substantive and interpersonal issues in the case, areas of practice, training and experience of the neutral, gender balance of the full group, skill base and expertise with regard to the issues and challenges of the clients, availability to begin within two weeks.
  • Any neutrals should be involved before the first full group meeting.

Professionals Tasks Prior to the First Group Meeting

  • The professionals will have a meeting to discuss pertinent issues and plan the first
    collaborative group meeting.
  • Pertinent topics include: client concerns, issues to be resolved, new developments between
    clients, background on the case, possible flash-point issues, dynamics of the clients and team.
  • Once these topics are reviewed, professionals should build a plan for the role(s) of all
    professionals, including who will guide discussion of certain topics, seating arrangements in full
    group meetings, meeting agenda topics and meeting time limits.
  • Billing status of professionals, cost sharing agreements between clients should be reviewed. It may be appropriate to make it an agenda item for the full group meeting to establish expectations and come to agreement on payment plan.

Conducting the First Group Meeting

  • During the first meeting, expectations are set for parties by having professionals and parties review the Participation Agreement and Ground Rules.
  • The next meeting dates should be set prior to the end of the full group meeting and included on the notes. Try to get two or three meetings on the calendar, generally two weeks apart. Neutrals should utilize this time to set one-on-one meetings with each client.
  • One attorney in the group will agree to compile minutes for the group and distribute to all
    participants, including clients, within a week of the full group meeting. Note taking rotates
    between attorneys.
  • Professionals will consult after a full group meeting to share thoughts, concerns and create a plan of approach for the next meeting. Pre- and post-meetings are encouraged.