Collaborative practice is a relatively new form of dispute resolution in which each party is represented by his or her lawyer, but in a somewhat different format than with conventional representation. There is no mediator, although impartial third parties (such as financial planners) may be called upon to assist in the settlement.
The main differences between collaborative practice and conventional representation are that (1) each of the two attorneys is expected to participate in an open and cooperative manner, even as they represent their respective clients, and (2) if the case is not settled, neither of the attorneys is permitted to take the case to court.
Each party and his or her counsel is required at the outset to sign a process agreement setting forth the expectations and ground rules of the negotiations. That initial agreement is structured so as to encourage full disclosure and to maintain the cooperative tone of the discussions.
Any attorney may not be both the mediator and an attorney for one of the parties in the same case, since the first is an impartial role and the second is a representational role.
Larry Gaughan is fully qualified to serve as an attorney for one of the parties in such a collaborative process, having taken the necessary additional training. However, if he is contacted by someone who wants him to serve in this representational role, it would be a conflict of interest for him to take part in any discussions with the other party about his possible role as a mediator.