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Adding Cooperative Practice to the ADR Toolkit, Part Four

This is one of Guest Blogger Law Professor John Lande’s posts in his series “Adding Cooperative Practice to the ADR Toolkit”. His Introduction is posted here. [Earlier Parts to the series are posted here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three]

Part Four: The Divorce Cooperation Institute And How DCI Lawyers Do Cooperative Practice.

The last part of this blog [Part 6] describes why the ADR field should add Cooperative Practice to the “ADR toolkit.” This part describes how lawyers can add it to your own practices. Mediators should also be interested because Cooperative Practice often involves mediation when people have difficulty resolving disputes.

Lawyers interested in offering Cooperative Practice may use or adapt DCI’s approach, as appropriate. Although DCI uses the process only in divorce cases, it can be readily adapted in other types of cases.

DCI members normally use an explicit process agreement at the outset. The agreement requires people to: (1) act civilly, (2) respond promptly to reasonable requests for information, (3) disclose all relevant financial information, (4) obtain joint expert opinions before obtaining individual expert opinions, (5) obtain expert input before requesting a custody study or appointment of a guardian ad litem, and (5) negotiate in good faith to reach fair compromises based on valid information. Here’s the full version of DCI’s principles.

DCI members value Cooperative Practice because they can tailor the process to the parties’ needs. In Cooperative cases, they use many of the elements in Collaborative Practice – such as commitment to full disclosure of relevant information, four-way meetings, joint experts, and individual coaches. Many DCI members – including many who use Collaborative Practice – find Collaborative process to be too formal and rigid and believe that it sometimes involves more of these process elements than needed. DCI members report using them only as needed in Cooperative cases and so they believe that a Cooperative process generally produces good outcomes as efficiently as possible.

For more information about my study of Cooperative Practice in Wisconsin, click here.

John’s series will continue later this week with “How Cooperative Negotiation Is Different From Negotiation In Litigation”.


Gini Nelson

Gini Nelson is a sole practitioner in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her practice emphasizes private dispute resolution, including distance dispute resolution, and domestic, bankruptcy and bankruptcy avoidance law. MORE >

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