The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Inc. held its 8th Annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference in Baltimore last week and asked me to speak about Collaborative Law.

Collaborative Law is one of the methods of getting to an agreement invented by Stu Webb and popularized by Pauline Tessler.

We brought it to Maryland, Virginia and DC when a group of lawyers founded the Collaborative Law Society and held our first training in 2002.

Collaborative Law is problem solving instead of fighting. The elements of Collaborative Law are:

(1) the lawyers only focus on settlement of your case and must withdraw if the parties decide to litigate.

(2) open and complete disclosure.

(3) negotiation proceeds by four-way meetings (lawyers and parties) which are planned and discussed in advance and afterwards.

(4) lawyers may consider long term goals of clients, such as keeping harmony in the family after the divorce, as well as short-term and monetary goals.

It is not for everyone, but it has worked quite well in all the cases I have handled or heard about.