Public Interest Law Careers Guide - collaborative law

Field of Law

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Stage of Law

Undergraduates; Practising Lawyers

By Katrina Koniuszko, Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) 

  • Lawyer - Collaborative Practice, Family Law, International Law and Workplace Relations Sections
  • Family Law Advisor to LIV and Victorian Bar Legal Aid Taskforce
  • Family Law and Workplace Relations Advisor to LIV Social Media Taskforce
  • Manager - Mentoring Program

What is collaborative practice?

Collaborative Practice is a non - adversarial approach to resolving disputes in which the clients, with the support of collaboratively trained practitioners, identify interests and issues, develop options, consider alternatives and make decisions about future actions and outcomes. The collaborative practitioner acts to assist clients to reach their decision and provides advice where required in a manner that supports the collaborative process. In a collaborative process, the clients and their lawyers contract in writing to attempt to resolve a dispute without recourse to litigation and agree in writing that the lawyers will not act for the clients if they cannot resolve their matter by coloration and decide to litigate the dispute. The collaborative process supports interest based negotiation. Competitive negotiation strategies and tactics are antithetical to the collaborative process.

Collaborative practice originated in the United States of America in 1990. It is also practiced widely in Canada and in the past five years has spread to the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand. Collaborative practice has developed largely through the establishment of practice groups, comprising individual lawyers or law firms as well as other professionals such as counselors, child specialists and financial analysts. Therefore, collaborative practice is a relatively new concept in Australia. The development of collaborative practice in Australia remains fluid, with initiatives taking place on a number of fronts.

Information for Students

Where can I learn more about collaborative practice?

Visit the Collaborative Practice Section of the Law Institute of Victoria website

Visit the Collaborative Professionals Victoria website

Visit the Collaborative Practice Section of the Law Council of Australia website 

Visit the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals website

How can I get involved?

Collaborative Practice Section

The LIV Collaborative Practice Section consists of members from legal and non - legal backgrounds who are interested in collaborative practice, have undertaken the prescribed training offered by the LIV and/ or are practicing in this area. The aims of the Practice Section are as follows:

  • Building and reinforcing relationships between collaborative professionals (considering that they come from legal, mental health and financial industries);
  • Establishing interdisciplinary training;
  • Developing protocols for mental health and financial professionals;
  • Creating collaborative practice specialization within the LIV;
  • Education in the community at all levels;
  • Generating interest in collaborative practice including addressing barriers to growth;
  • Strengthening attendance at Practice Group meetings; and
  • Developing marketing strategies.  

Collaborative Professionals Victoria (‘CPV')

The Collaborative Practice Section has established a peak membership association for collaborative professionals titled, Collaborative Professionals Victoria (‘CPV') which assists members in educating, developing, training and further developing their expertise in collaborative practice. CPV is administered by an Executive Committee of the Collaborative Practice Section.  As the peak body for the collaborative community in Victoria, CPV represents the collaborative community through leadership initiatives, advocacy, membership association, access to information, practice resources and high quality professional development programs, educational workshops, conferences and networking opportunities. CPV works to maintain the highest standards of collaboration in Victoria by promoting awareness of professional responsibilities for collaboratively trained professionals.

Practice Groups

CPV runs approved ‘practice groups' for members who are interested in collaborative practice, have undertaken the prescribed training offered by the LIV and/ or are practising in this area. Participating in Practice Groups is ideal for students seeking an introduction to collaborative practice and to network with collaboratively trained professionals. There are currently three Practice Groups which have been approved by CPV. The details for those Groups are as follows:

CBD Group

  • Facilitators are Cathy Gale/Ellie Delafield and Caroline Counsel
  • Meetings will take place at Resolve Conflict Family Lawyers at Level 2, 22 William Street, Melbourne
  • The meetings will be held on the second Thursday of each month commencing at 5.30 pm

Contact:

cgale@catherinegale.com.au

edelafield@catherinegale.com.au

ccounsel@ccfamlaw.com.au

South East Group

  • Facilitators are Stephen Winspear and Geoff Bonsall
  • Meetings will take place at Moores Legal at 9 Prospect Street, Box Hill
  • The meetings will be held on the third Tuesday of each month commencing at 5.30 pm

Contact:

swinspear@mooreslegal.com.au

gbonsall@madisonslawyers.com.au

Southern Group

  • Facilitator is Tony Cinque
  • Meetings will take place at CE Family Lawyers at 221 Bay Street, Brighton
  • The meetings will be held on the fourth Monday of each month commencing at 5.30 pm

Contact:

ac@cefamilylawyers.com.au

You can join whichever Group is most convenient for you. There are no selection criteria for students to apply, join or participate. You can also move between the Groups and attend another Group if you are unable to attend the meeting for your nominated Group. The facilitators will otherwise be responsible for inviting members and potential new additions to the collaborative movement to their Groups. CPV intends these Groups to be as organic and flexible as possible. The meetings will be held on a monthly basis but there will be flexibility within the Groups regarding the content and subject matter of the meetings. How each Group is run will very much be up to the Group itself. The Facilitators will provide information ahead of time regarding their meeting dates and subject matter/content of the meetings for dissemination to all CPV members through the CPV website and Newsletter. The Facilitators will be responsible for maintaining records of attendance at Practice Group meetings which will be provided to the LIV as this will continue to be relevant in satisfying the criteria for ongoing CPV membership. There will be at least one joint meeting each year which will be organised by the Practice Group Sub-Committee. These meetings will bring the Practice Groups together on a regular basis. The joint meetings will be more focused on speakers and presentation. There will also be additional social events and in particular an end of year social event. CPV would like some indication of which Group suits you. CPV asks that you nominate which Group you would like to attend as your primary Group. Please advise by email to collabprofessionals@liv.asn.au. Please also RSVP to the nominated group facilitator.

Where can I work?

Traditionally utilised in family and relationship law disputes, education, training, accreditation and possible expansion of collaborative practice to areas other than family law are currently being discussed across Australia. Collaborative practice is amenable to disputes which may involve an ongoing relationship between the parties involved. For example, family and relationship law, wills probate and estate litigation, employment law and workplace relations. The Collaborative Practice Section is currently represented by collaborative professionals working in different areas of civil law. The Collaborative Practice Section has developed protocols for lawyers, financial professionals and psychologists operating in a collaborative process. The protocols apply to any collaboratively trained professional acting with another collaboratively trained professional, to support two or more individuals or entities to manage, settle or resolve disputes, or to form a future plan of action through a process of collaboration. The protocols are divided into three types of professionals that may work in acollaboration - lawyers, psychologists and financial professionals. The protocols can be found at the Protocols page of the Collaborative Professional Victoria website.

Information for Practising Lawyers

What training do I need and where can I get it?

If you're passionate about dispute resolution that's characterised by respect and fairness, and believe in a holistic approach to helping people achieve their objectives while avoiding court, then collaborative practice may be for you. The LIV offers approved, accredited training in collaborative practice. Professionals who complete the LIV's approved, accredited training program will be eligible to join CPV.

Increasingly professionals outside of the legal profession are seeing the advantages in working with each other and their clients to successfully resolve disputes. This workshop is suitable for legal practitioners interested in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of Collaborative Law practice, the workshop is also suitable for professionals such as Psychologists and Financial Planners. Members of the Australian Psychology Society and the Financial Planners Association will be eligible for LIV member rates. Professionals with non-legal backgrounds will be invited to become Associate Members with the Law Institute of Victoria.

Topics

  • The Collaborative Approach
  • The Paradigm Shift
  • The Collaboration Contract
  • Interest Based Negotiation
  • Communication Skills
  • Advocacy Issues

I want to incorporate collaborative law into my practice - how can I do this?

Collaborative practice is a process option. Many law firms, financial planners and psychologists offer collaborative practice as part of their overall services.  A starting point is to obtain membership of CPV.

Membership of CPV

Lawyer Member

To become a lawyer member of CPV you will need to have fulfilled the following criteria:

  1. Be a current member of the Law Institute of Victoria;
  2. Hold a current practising certificate;
  3. Have attended and satisfactorily completed the LIV's Introduction to Collaborative Practice Course or an equivalent course approved by the Collaborative Practice Section Executive;  and
  4. Pay the annual CPV membership fee.

Non-Lawyer Member

To become a non-lawyer member of CPV you will need to have fulfilled the following criteria:

  1. Be a current Associate Member of the LIV;
  2. Have attended and satisfactorily completed the LIV's Introduction to Collaborative Practice Course or an equivalent course approved by the Executive; and
  3. Pay the annual CPV membership fee.

 CPV Directory - Additional Criteria

The LIV Collaborative Professionals Victoria Directory lists eligible collaborative practitioners online. It is available for clients, lawyers and other professionals looking for a collaborative professional. Eligibility for your details to appear on the CPV Directory requires fulfilling the following additional criteria:

Lawyer Member

Have been admitted to practice for a minimum of 5 years or a lesser period approved by the Executive.

Non-Lawyer Member

Have been practising in a field of expertise relevant to collaborative practice for a minimum of five years or a lesser period approved by the Executive. To maintain eligibility for inclusion in the CPV Directory you will need to fulfil the following additional criteria:

Lawyer Member

  1. Complete 5 Collaborative Practice Points ("CP points") every membership year;
  2. CP points must be through attendances at three different Collaborative Practice Group meetings'
  3. Within the following two years after satisfactorily completing the LIV's Introduction to Collaborative Practice Course or an equivalent course approved by the Executive, have attended and satisfactorily completed the LIV's Advanced Collaborative Practice Training Course or an equivalent course approved by the Executive.

Non-Lawyer Member

  • Complete 5 CP points every membership year of which at least 3 CP points must be through attendances at three different Collaborative Practice Group meetings

Non-lawyer members are not strictly required but are strongly encouraged to attend and satisfactorily complete the LIV's Advanced Collaborative Practice Training Course or an equivalent course approved by the Executive.

CP points may be gained through:

  1. Attending seminars, lectures or workshops relevant to collaborative practice - 1 CP point for each hour (maximum of 3 points for any one seminar, lecture or workshop)
  2. Membership of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) - 1 CP point
  3. Attending Collaborative Practice Group meetings - 1 CP point for each meeting
  4. Attending a full day Collaborative Practice Group meeting - 2 CP points

Executive Discretion

The Executive has the discretion to determine eligibility for membership based on the criteria set out in this document. Applicants may apply for exemption if they do not meet all the criteria set out for a particular membership category and any exemptions will be at the sole discretion of the Executive. Factors the Executive will take into account in determining any applications for an exemption include but are not limited to:

  1. Experience relevant and related to collaborative practice
  2. Attendance at Practice Group meetings
  3. Demonstrated capacity to perform collaborative work

What things should a traditionally-trained lawyer be aware of when entering into collaborative practice?

Collaborative Practice is a new way to resolve disputes without going to court. It emphasises interdisciplinary problem solving, negotiation and empowerment and can involve lawyers working with lawyers or other professionals trained in Collaborative Practice and their clients to respectfully resolve disputes. Ultimately, it's a process for people who want to resolve their differences themselves and thus, stay out of court. It can add new dimensions to your skills and the services you offer your clients. And for your clients, a new way of settling issues guided by quality legal and other advice.

 Castan Centre logo    Progressive Law Network logo

Victoria Law Foundation Grants logo