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Dispute Resolution Processes

Cooperative Practice

In Cooperative Practice, the parties and their lawyers begin the case with a common commitment of creatively settling all issues.  They go to court only if they cannot reach a reasonable settlement.  They use an agreement describing how the negotiation process will work. If the parties do not settle, the lawyers can continue to represent them. The process is very flexible and can be as formal or informal as desired.  For example, the cooperative negotiation agreement may be oral or in writing.  The process typically involves “four-way meetings” with the parties and lawyers, though some negotiation may be directly between the lawyers or parties when appropriate. The agreement may provide for a “cooling off” period before the parties could go to court (except in an emergency).  If parties and lawyers have a hard time reaching agreement, they may hire a mediator to help resolve disagreements.  The process may take place before a case is filed in court or while a court case is pending. In some places, the court may support the process.