- First visit to your solicitor. He or she will find out about you and what you need advice on. At this stage, many different ways of dealing with your case will be set out and explained, not just Collaborative Law.
- If you express interest in the Collaborative process at your first meeting, your solicitor (if Collaboratively trained) will carry out an initial “screen” or assessment to see if your case is likely to be suitable for the process. If it appears the case may be suitable, a further meeting will be arranged to fully go through the process and what needs to be done. Details of other local Collaborative lawyers may also be provided, which could be given to the other party or a letter may be sent to the other party’s Collaborative solicitor, if they are already involved, suggesting that the process can be used.
- Second meeting with solicitor. You will be fully prepared for the Collaborative process and possible dates may be aired for the first “four-way” meeting.
- Lawyer-Lawyer meeting. Both Collaborative solicitors will meet to assess what the issues are in your case and will set an agenda for the first four-way meeting. A draft Participation Agreement (the agreement governing the whole process) may be looked at in draft form.
- First four-way meeting. Collaborative Participation Agreement signed. Solicitors and clients de-brief after the meeting.
- Subsequent four-way meetings, with de-brief at the end.
- Final four-way. If an agreement is reached, a document setting out the agreed matters may be drawn up and signed. It may be agreed at this point that certain documents are to be sent to the court for approval, by agreement between you.
It is important to note that in between each four-way meeting, you may feel the need to have a private appointment with your solicitor, which is of course understandable and often necessary. You may also have tasks to carry out, such as the provision of financial documents.
On other occasions, between meetings, you may find that a further professional is needed to be involved such as a financial advisor or pension valuer. In many cases such professionals will be jointly instructed to provide a report.
A family consultant may also become involved either in between or at meetings to provide invaluable counselling or coaching to assist with difficult emotional or practical issues.
Remember that the process is client-focused. We as lawyers want you to reach an agreement with the other party in a way that you are comfortable with. We will assist in any way we can to ensure that your joint objectives are met, or even exceeded. We find our work most rewarding when, at the end of a case, there is a real prospect of you both having a good, working relationship into the future.