Written by attorney Holly A Schymik

The Major Differences Between Traditional LItigation vs. Collaborative Law

The following chart compares the major differences between traditional litigation and collaborative law.

Traditional Litigation

1. Role of the Attorneys. Warrior/ Gladiator. The attorney’s goal is to fight their client’s battle, to get them the biggest piece of the pie, the right to primary possession of their children, etc.

2. Role of the Parties. The parties have little or no control of the process, and the attorney is the often the voice of the party.

3. Information Gathering. The goal (although unstated) may be to hide the ball with the rules that govern the discovery.

  1. Experts. Litigation often becomes a costly battle of the experts.

5. Privacy. The arena of problem-solving is often the public arena of the courtroom.

6. Time Until Resolution. The timing is often controlled by the court’s docket.

7. Future Relationships. Already strained relationships are often further strained as a result of public airing of personal matters and finger-pointing/blame.

8. Costs. In most cases, litigation gives a lower rate of return than costs incurred in the collaborative model.

9. Control of the Outcome. The decision-maker for unresolves issues will be an arbitrator, judge, or jury – none of whom know the nuances of the family. Personal bias on the part of the decision may influence the outcome.

Collaborative Law

1. Role of the Attorneys. Counselor/ Guide. The attorney guides the client through the process, exploring options for problem-solving and resolution.

2. Role of the Parties. The parties control the process and results; they have an independent voice throughout the process.

3. Information Gathering. The parties agree to freely exchange information with one another.

4. Experts. The parties agree to use neutral experts when needed.

5. Privacy. Negotiations are conducted in the privacy of the attorney’s offices.

6. Time Until Resolution. The parties have control of the pace of the process.

7. Future Relationships. Allows skills learned to be used to resolve future disputes. The parties agree not to engage in needless discussions of past events.

8. Costs. The parties receive value for the costs incurred in collaborative law and can achieve a higher rate of return.

9. Control of the Outcome. The parties – who are best suited for working out an agreement which meets the needs of their family – are the decisions-makers. Concerns regarding potential personal bias on the part of the decision-maker are eliminated.

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