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collaborative practiceHistory of Collaborative Practice and Our Practice Group

Stu Webb, a senior family law lawyer in Minneapolis, had just finished the divorce trial from hell. He was frustrated and disappointed by the process. He went into family law to help people and he felt that the litigation process just caused more pain. Stu felt that he was “part of the problem” instead of “part of the solution”, when he was an adversarial lawyer in Family Court. As a result, he decided to either quit practicing family law or find a new way to practice it.

On January 1, 1990, Stu Webb declared himself the first Collaborative Lawyer. He decided he would no longer accept cases that were destined for Family Court. Instead, he would only take on a client if both lawyers agreed they would never represent the clients in court. Collaborative Practice was born.

The process spread across the US, Canada and worldwide. It also evolved. Soon therapists and financial specialists became involved as part of the team who helped clients work through their issues. The team approach proved economically efficient and the solutions were even better for the clients.

In 2001, the first training of Collaborative Lawyers took place in Simcoe County and we formed a practice group thereafter. Initially, our practice group and process involved only lawyers. In 2005, the new interdisciplinary model emerged as an option in our community and our present group was formed. Our practice group now includes lawyers, Family Coaches (mental health professionals) and Financial Specialists. There are a variety of models used: the traditional Collaborative Law model involving just lawyers exists alongside the newer interdisciplinary model.

The number of Collaborative cases being done in Simcoe County is rising each and every year as more people learn of its benefits and enjoy positive experiences.  Public demand is rising. Our practice group also continues to grow as professionals discover that they can feel good about helping clients through a difficult transition using an effective, creative process: Collaborative Process.

Collaborative Process is destined to become the mainstream way for divorcing families to work through the transition of separation and divorce.