“I just wanted to let you know how thankful I am we decided to work through the Collaborative process. The kids are doing great, I feel so much better..."

The History of Collaborative Law

In 1990, a family law attorney named Stu Webb of Minneapolis, Minnesota struggled with the stress and dissatisfaction he felt being part of the traditional family law process. He took a stand and "disarmed," promising he would no longer fight in court on behalf of divorce clients.

Webb committed himself to helping his clients settle their issues through negotiation, convinced it would avoid the damaging consequences of going to court. If any party chose to go to court, he would withdraw from the case and refer the client to another attorney.

In order to promote freedom for more creative settlements, Webb concluded that a formal written agreement was necessary. Both lawyers and both parties sign the agreement, committing the four to negotiate in good faith, and requiring the lawyers to withdraw from the case if it is to be carried to the courtroom. Webb became the first to call himself a collaborative attorney and others soon followed.

The collaborative movement continues to grow rapidly, spurred by professionals who desire a change in the practice of family law. Numerous collaborative practice groups have formed across the United States, as well as internationally. Collaboration is also occurring in probate and medical malpractice matters.