As family lawyer Diana Skaggs
recently alerted readers, the nation's leading divorce lawyers are finding more cases settled before trial
. This trend in favor of negotiation over litigation in divorce may in part be attributable to the growing popularity of alternatives such as mediation and collaborative law which emphasize mutual gains, joint problem solving, and better communication between disputants.
In "Lawyers who mediate, not litigate: Collaborative law doesn't have to be an oxymoron
", a column in today's Christian Science Monitor
, Boston-based collaborative lawyer David Hoffman
traces the roots of collaborative law, describes its benefits, and assesses its risks. Its benefits are two-fold: for the clients themselves, who can achieve creative resolutions, as well as for the legal profession itself, since Hoffman sees collaborative law as a way to regain ebbing public confidence. Hoffman does so in the context of the ethics opinion recently issued by
the American Bar Association
upholding the use of collaborative law agreements by lawyers--an opinion which put to rest concerns among collaborative lawyers raised by a controversial advisory opinion by the Colorado Bar Association which declared collaborative law unethical per se
earlier this year.
Although collaborative law -- and other nonadversarial processes like mediation -- may not be for everyone
, many divorcing couples are electing these as a way to avoid the costs -- monetary and otherwise -- that litigation can produce.
Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property issues, and serves on numerous mediation panels, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Training and coaching are an enduring passion -- she has taught thousands of people to resolve conflict, negotiate better, or become mediators -- from Croatian judges to Fortune 500 executives.
A geek at heart, Levin consults on web design and social media to professionals. She blogs about ADR at the intersection of law, science, and popular culture at the award-winning MediationChannel.com, regarded as one of the world's top ADR blogs. She also tracks and catalogues ADR blogs world-wide at ADRblogs.com, where she has created a community for bloggers writing about constructive ways to resolve disputes.
web site: http://dianelevin.com