How is Collaborative Law used in Civil Litigation

A. General Overview of Collaborative Law in Arizona

Those facing civil litigation may use a process called Collaborative Law to resolve their dispute out of court. Collaborative Law means that both parties retain collaboratively trained attorneys to help resolve the matter using interest-based negotiations. The parties also enter into participation agreements requiring their collaborative attorneys and other professionals retained to withdraw if there is no settlement. The agreement also requires voluntary disclosure of relevant information.

B. How Other Professionals Are Used.

Parties can use a team approach in the collaborative process. The parties can jointly retain other professionals to assist in resolution. The teams may include a neutral – such as a mediator or a mental health provider – who helps facilitate settlement discussions. A mental health professional may also be used to help parties communicate well or to deal with anger or grief, depending on the nature of the case. The parties may also use financial professionals for business appraisals, forensic accounting, estimates of economic damages, and tax advice on settlement proceeds, structured annuities and special needs trusts. Other experts may be used as the specifics of a case dictate. For example, a construction case may utilize an engineer.

C. What Type Of Civil Cases Can Benefit From Collaborative Law?

The following types of cases have already successfully used collaborative law: partnership dissolutions, several disputes in probate courts regarding guardianships, trusts and the administration of estates, and employment law.

Other areas could include: special education, real estate disputes (construction, permits, landlord tenant, financing), personal injury, regulated industries, insurance disputes, and any other number of areas.

In the medical error cases, the parties can use the process to engage in less expensive discovery and obtain creative solutions that may include apologies and agreements to change procedures.

D. How Is A Collaborative Case Different Than A Cooperative Case?

Some cases can be settled using collaborative skills but without the participation agreement or provisions for withdrawal. They cannot be considered collaborative cases, but they are still generally preferable to litigation.

E. Can An Attorney Take A Collaborative Case On A Contingency Basis?

Contingency fees are still allowed, and the lawyer is just like any other attorney with a limited scope engagement. If settlement is unsuccessful, the collaborative attorney is in the same position as a litigation attorney who loses at trial or hands off the case to another attorney. Like any other attorney, the collaborative attorney must still keep track of his/her time.

Alona M. Gottfried is a family law mediator, collaborative divorce attorney and litigation attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260


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Alona M. Gottfried, Esq.
8160 E Butherus Dr, Suite #7 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (480) 776-8271