5th Oct 2017

Exploring a truly global phenomenon

I have been encouraged in recent months by an increasing amount of Collaborative work – it certainly appears that people are more aware of the process and more willing to give it a go.

It is in fact a global phenomenon – like so many ideas it began first in America and has spread across the Atlantic – one of the better ideas to come from the United States! In fact, it is encouraging that at a time when the press is full of heightened rhetoric and talk of building walls, there seems to be an increasing international community of Collaborative lawyers.

Indeed, the Collaborative process is also now used across Europe, Australia, New Zealand and is continuing to spread. Through the magic of LinkedIn and similar networking groups, I can have discussions with Collaborative lawyers from across the world, meaning that expertise becomes international and the sharing of ideas much easier. It enables professionals to keep up to date with developments worldwide. It is very much a positive sign that in this increasingly divisive world that people are choosing a process which requires them to sit down together and find solutions.

For those that do not know, Collaborative law is a process whereby parties commit to resolving their differences in face to face meetings and enter a binding agreement not to litigate. This is binding not just upon the clients but also upon their lawyers. If for whatever reason the process breaks down then the clients need to seek new lawyers and their existing lawyers are unable to continue to represent them. This is a deliberate buy in to ensure that people stick with the process when, as it does from time to time, the going gets tough. In practice and in my experience, very few cases do not succeed and the failure rate is extremely low.

The nature of this process means that not just is this practiced globally but a case can be effectively conducted across international borders. Due to the magic of technology, it is quite possible to hold four-way meetings via Skype. Provided the system is set up properly so that people can see each other, electronic four way meetings can work quite well. Do not be put off therefore from trying the Collaborative process if your partner or spouse lives or works abroad, distance is not a barrier. Where there is a will there is a way!

Collaborative works both on a micro and macro scale. The micro scale is equivalent to an individual couple sitting down to resolve their differences collaboratively. On a macro scale you can, quite literally, apply the same principles to international disputes. Communities and countries need to work together to find solutions. The principles are the same. Wherever there is a dispute there is a potential for conflict and for distress, anger and upset. Finding answers is never easy, but solutions cannot be found unless you are prepared to sit down with the other side – in whatever context – and try and find areas of common ground that enable you to work together in the future. As Churchill put it “jaw jaw not war war” is the only way to find lasting solutions.

On the “micro scale” it will enable you to move forward with your life in a much more positive way with better relationships going forward, vitally important for children and others who are involved in the situation. Collaborative law is now a truly global process.

Described in industry directories as "a top collaborative lawyer", Stephen Root is a Director and Family Lawyer at Berwins with over 30 years of legal expertise. 

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