The Collaborative Process

The Collaborative Process is about cooperation, not confrontation. It is a respectful means of dispute resolution without going to court. 

In the Collaborative Process, collaborative lawyers and their clients are responsible for gathering information, generating options and finding solutions that are future-focused and acceptable to the disputing parties.

The Process

  • Each client is represented by a collaboratively trained lawyer throughout the process.
  • Both lawyers help their client and the other party to work as a team to:
    • find and focus on their common interests,
    • understand each other’s concerns,
    • make a full and frank exchange of information,
    • explore a wide range of possible choices, and
    • reach solutions acceptable to both parties.

All negotiations are conducted between the clients and the lawyers of both parties. The Collaborative Process includes the following steps:

  • Identify what is important to each client (interests),
  • Identify what questions the clients need to answer,
  • Gather information,
  • Create the maximum number of choices,
  • Evaluate options and modify and refine them,
  • Negotiate to an acceptable agreement, and
  • Closure

The Collaborative Process is voluntary and confidential. By its nature, it avoids the need for lengthy and expensive pleadings, affidavits and the like, to be prepared. Time frames are determined by the parties, not by court lists and timetables.

Interdisciplinary Collaborative Process involves the addition of a coach/facilitator to assist communications between parties, and the potential inclusion of other experts. The coach/facilitator is neutral and guides the process. The parties can choose to instruct financial professionals or child specialists to provide advice as may be required. The other professionals may or may not attend the group meetings.

Find out more about the Collaborative Process and how it may help you by speaking to a Collaborative Lawyer.

How is the Collaborative Process different?

  • Both lawyers and their clients and the coach/facilitator sign a contract at the start of the process which provides that all parties to the contract will not go to Court and will not use threats of going to Court to solve the dispute.
  • If the Collaborative Process fails, both lawyers and their law firms must withdraw from acting for their respective clients.
  • The Collaborative Process is conducted on a different basis to the traditional positional bargaining approach commonly adopted by lawyers – it is based on both clients and lawyers adopting interest based negotiation techniques (“principled negotiation”).
  • Negotiations are carried out almost entirely in four-way or five-way meetings attended by both clients and their lawyers.
  • The Process also allows for the parties to engage experts such as counsellors, child experts, valuers, business coaches, accountants, financial planners and the like, to assist the parties in areas requiring particular expertise. These experts work impartially as part of the settlement team to help the parties make decisions on an informed basis.

In the Collaborative Process both clients will:

  • Treat each other with respect,
  • Listen to each other’s perspectives, interests and concerns,
  • Explore all possible choices,
  • Let go of the past, in order to focus on the future.

Is the Collaborative Process the right choice?

Collaborative law is an alternative dispute resolution process that has many advantages

  • Both clients have skilled legal advisers at every stage of the process who will advise them and be an ally to them. The client is never “on their own”. Their Collaborative Lawyer is at their side, advising and assisting them to achieve goals by mutual participation, negotiation and agreement.
  • Both lawyers understand how to reach creative settlements. They will help the clients generate and explore options for settlement.
  • Both clients and their lawyers agree in advance to work only toward a settlement acceptable to both clients. Litigation can never be threatened. Neither party will be permitted to “play games” or take advantage of each other. The lawyers will ensure that all negotiations are conducted in a safe and confidential environment.
  • The lawyers share with their clients a financial incentive to make the Collaborative Process work. The lawyers have not succeeded unless they help to create a “win-win” solution. They are “out of a job” if the process breaks down.
  • The lawyers are concerned about the process as well as the outcome.
  • Clients and lawyers work together as the members of the settlement team, rather than working against each other as opposing legal counsel.
  • Coaches/Facilitators can assist clients to manage their emotions and communicate effectively.
  • Collaboratively trained child specialists, accountants and financial planners are available to provide clients with expert advice where needed


If you are interested in training opportunities, please check our Newsletters and LinkedIn.
If you are holding training, please contact Collaborative Professionals (NSW) Inc Newsletter Committee to include your information in our next Newsletter.