There’s an old joke that gets turned around and recycled every now and then, and it goes something like this: A pilot is flying a private jet over the Atlantic, when the plane suddenly loses power. The plane has only 4 parachutes and 5 passengers, including the pilot. In a seeming act of heroism, after the three other passengers have grabbed a parachute and jumped out the airlock, the pilot hands the last passenger the last parachute, opting to stay instead with the plane as it crashes hopelessly into the ocean. The passenger tries to convince him to grab on to him and jump, that they may both be able to use the one parachute. The pilot refuses, saying “I’d rather face certain death than possible litigation.”
Unfortunately, this attitude is one uncomfortably close to the truth in many circumstances. There are sometimes circumstances that seem like a certain lawsuit disaster, but they don’t always have to wind up that way. In many of these kinds of circumstances (crashing planes notwithstanding), some proactive steps may be taken that can reach an acceptable outcome before one party or another faces disaster in a courtroom.
With collaborative law, parties are able to meet and negotiate the specifics of a conflict before the courts necessarily become involved. Perhaps an engineer who installs high-end heating and cooling equipment has made a mistake that he knows will be very costly to fix, and if it is taken to court, will incur great legal expenses, and eventually still be very costly to fix. Before things get litigious, the engineer can use a collaborative lawyer to help set up meetings with the client who has suffered, working with the client’s lawyers to ensure that a suit is not unnecessarily filed. The engineer will still be liable to fix the mistake, but won’t also lose his business and reputation. On the contrary, he is able to demonstrate that he is willing to go to great lengths to honor his contracts!
Collaborative law can help many parties who are at odds find mutually acceptable solutions before they turn into a legal quagmire. If you believe that collaborative law may be a good option for you, a qualified collaborative attorney may help you take the next steps in resolving your particular conflict.
Source: American Bar Association, “Why would anyone use collaborative law?,” Sherrie R. Abney, accessed Oct. 20, 2016