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Collaborative Lawyers' Duties to Screen the Appropriateness of Collaborative Law and Obtain Clients' Informed Consent to Use Collaborative Law

by John Lande, Forrest (Woody) Mosten
May 2012

Originally published at Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 25, p. 347, 2010 - republished with permission

Collaborative Law (CL) is an innovative dispute resolution process that offers significant benefits but also poses significant non-obvious risks. This Article provides a systematic analysis of these possible risks as identified in books written by CL experts, CL practice group websites, social science research, and bar association ethics opinions.

In CL, the lawyers and clients sign a "participation agreement" promising to use an interest-based approach to negotiation and fully disclose all relevant information. A key element of CL is the "disqualification agreement" signed by parties (and sometimes by attorneys) which provides that both CL lawyers would be disqualified from representing the clients if the parties engage in contested litigation. CL is designed to encourage parties to stay in the process which can be good, though sometimes parties feel stuck there, having invested thousands of dollars and being at risk of losing their lawyer if the process terminates.

Ethical rules require lawyers to inform participants about the risks of the process and screen cases for appropriateness under Rules 1.2 and 1.7 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Empirical studies raise concerns about CL lawyers' compliance with these duties. This article is intended to help prepare CL lawyers and practice groups so that they can better educate potential clients and comply with their obligations to screen cases and help clients make informed decisions about use of CL. It is also intended to help policymakers in promulgating and applying relevant rules. Bar association ethics committees may find this analysis useful in writing ethics opinions and adjudicating possible complaints against CL lawyers. Similarly, courts may find this useful in adjudicating possible malpractice complaints.


Attachments



LandeMostenCollaborativeNew.pdf Lawyers Duty to Screen for Appropriateness and Obtain Informed Consent  (LandeMostenCollaborativeNew.pdf)

Biography



John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law and former director of its LLM Program in Dispute Resolution.  He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He began mediating professionally in 1982 in California. He was a fellow at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the Director of the Mediation Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School. His work focuses on various aspects of dispute systems design, including publications analyzing how lawyering and mediation practices transform each other, business lawyers’ and executives’ opinions about litigation and ADR, designing court-connected mediation programs, improving the quality of mediation practice, the “vanishing trial,” and planned early negotiation.   The International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution gave him its award for best professional article for Principles for Policymaking about Collaborative Law and Other ADR Processes, 22 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 619 (2007). The ABA recently published his book, Lawyering with Planned Early Negotiation: How You Can Get Good Results for Clients and Make Money.  His website, where you can download his publications, is http://www.law.missouri.edu/lande.

Forrest (Woody) Mosten

Forest (Woody) Mosten is Adjunct Professor at UCLA School of Law where he teaches Mediation and Lawyer as Peacemaker. He and has been in private practice as a mediator since 1979. The author of four books and numerous articles on mediation, collaborative law, legal access, and building a peacemaking career, Woody served as convener for the 1999 international symposium, Training Mediators for the 21st Century. He has been Guest Editor for the Family Court Review’s special issues 4 times, most recently for the July 2015 issue on Peacemaking for Divorcing Families. Woody trains mediators, collaborative professionals, and lawyers in conflict resolution courses ranging from basic to master classes and keynotes conferences throughout the world. 

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