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The role of a disqualification clause in collaborative law

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2023 | Mediation & Collaborative Law

Collaborative law offers a gentler method of resolving legal disputes. It encourages all parties to work toward a solution that everyone agrees on. This method is particularly useful in family law scenarios, like divorce, where maintaining a positive relationship post-resolution is often crucial. Rather than being the first option, going to court is a last resort in this approach. However, if things don’t work out despite these best efforts, there is an important clause that everyone involved – including the lawyers – must follow.

Different lawyers for each party

In the collaborative process, each party has their own lawyer. These lawyers help guide each party through negotiations. They all sign a critical document of collaborative law called a “participation agreement.” All parties and their lawyers must sign this agreement as it sets the rules for the collaborative process. It mainly stresses the need for good-faith negotiations toward a settlement.

The purpose of the clause

One important provision of the participation agreement is the “disqualification clause.” It states that if collaboration fails and litigation is necessary, the original lawyers must withdraw. This means they cannot continue representing their clients, specifically in court. This agreement serves three purposes, including:

  • Choosing to go to court means hiring new lawyers. The hassle of getting new representation helps people commit to collaborative resolution.
  • It assures clients that the information they share during collaboration won’t be used against them in court.
  • It minimizes lawyers’ financial incentive for drawn-out litigation.

The disqualification clause is integral to the collaborative process. It proves helpful if litigation becomes unavoidable. But more importantly, it fosters a faster, more collaborative environment.

The role of the agreement in the process

The agreement not only prevents lawyers from unnecessarily dragging out cases, but it also impacts the main parties in the dispute. If the collaborative approach fails, and court is the only option left, the expense and time needed to get new lawyers can be significant. This motivates everyone to stay with the collaborative process. Ultimately, it promotes resolution through cooperation, not conflict.