Collaborative Law is Dead!

Oooooooooooh no it isn’t. Forgive me, tis the season of the pantomine after all.

The message coming from some powerful firms and individuals is that collaborative law doesn’t work. The excuses given include that client’s don’t like it, it’s too expensive, the costs are hard to manage and that it is very last season, dahlink.

The more I hear this message, the more apparent it is that it is the solicitors themselves who don’t like it.

There are several reasons this might be but the underlying reasons are likely to be that (a) solicitors don’t like relinquishing control over clients; and (b) they fear losing the client (i.e. money) if the collaborative process fails. Neither of these reasons are very client friendly.

The real problem is that it is contagious.

If the biggest firms and most powerful lawyers in an area are sending out a message, it will be reiterated across the sector. Equally, if the senior lawyers in a department do not support collaborative law, the juniors will necessarily follow suit. Their careers depend on it. As a result, the option is barely reaching the clients and the statistics are validating the opinion that client’s don’t like it.

It is extremely easy for family solicitors to manipulate clients during the very early stages of their separation, particularly when the client is paying large sums of money to them. Even the most experienced and commercial clients may be relieved to have identified someone to represent them in this personal area of their lives. With the retainer goes a huge amount of trust in the chosen lawyer and if that lawyer does not like collaborative law then the option will not be properly offered to the client. It seems this is happening across the city and probably in other areas too.

Before we deal with the need for high quality options meetings, transparent costs and support for those engaged in the collaborative process (subjects of later blogs) we need to deal openly with this fundamental problem.

By nature, family lawyers tend to be independent slightly controversial sorts. We need some of that free thinking spirit to support the collaborative process even where it might feel like it exposes you.

If anyone reading this wishes to discuss the issues raised, please contact Access.