Collaborative Law Part I: Regaining Control

What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is a way to approach the resolution of a legal dispute without litigating through the court system. It is one of several different types of alternative dispute resolution processes. It is the one approach that gives control of the process to the parties in the dispute.

At the heart of the Collaborative Law process is an agreement by the parties to stay out of court during the resolution of the legal dispute. As such, the process unfolds through a mutually agreed upon timetable of meetings involving the parties and their attorneys in a private, confidential setting.

What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Law?

Choosing to resolve a dispute through the Collaborative Law process can lead to many benefits.


  • You can avoid court hearings that unfold in a public forum for the community and the press to observe. Deadlines imposed by judges and courthouse administrators can keep matters in the public eye. 
  • You can dramatically reduce stress and trauma when you and your attorney control the privacy and confidentiality of the process.


  • You can arrange meetings at your convenience. Court mandated timetables usually occur in the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Customized Solutions

  • Collaborative Law process allow you to assess the relative priorities of the issues. You can then pursue a resolution that maximizes the opportunity for achieving these priorities.
  • You are free to engage in constructive and creative solutions. Frequently, you and your attorney can find solutions well beyond the limits of courts in disputes resolved by judges and juries.  
  • You can receive the guidance you need. Many other professionals are trained in the Collaborative Law process. You can engage neutral experts, such as child psychologists, accountants, mortgage brokers or business consultants. They can evaluate issues and provide constructive advice on the options for an amicable settlement of the dispute.

How can the Collaborative Law help you regain control of your legal dispute?

Maryland courts, like many jurisdictions, have statewide court administrators who impose a case management system. Judges are required to set deadlines for the resolution of lawsuits. The result is mandatory deadlines. You must conclude all court proceedings by the deadline imposed upon you.

However, most courts allow for lawsuits to be stayed. This means that the lawsuit can be removed from the case management system.  You and your attorney can provide documentation that the dispute has been directed to the Collaborative Law process, and the court systems can remove the case.

The courts are overloaded with cases which makes their ability to abide by the case management deadlines difficult.

The courts are overloaded with cases which makes their ability to abide by the case management deadlines difficult. Accordingly, most courts will usually allow the transfer of the dispute resolution from the court system to the Collaborative Law process.

You can either start with the Collaborative Law process, or you can transfer your dispute to the Collaborative Law process from the court system.  Collaborative Law allows the parties and their attorneys to control the scheduling of meetings and the fact gathering process. Control over the process allows for a complete evaluation of dispute resolution options, including the use of neutral professionals, to reach an amicable resolution.