Why the Uniform Collaborative Law Act is Critical

Collaborative Practice is being utilized in 25 different countries, in every state of the Union of the United States, and in every province in Canada. It is the wave of the future!

Like commerce, Collaborative Practice often reaches across state lines and it has increasingly become governed by a patchwork of statutes, court rules, ethical opinions, and widely varying Participation Agreements. Concluding that making the Collaborative model more accessible to consumers is in the public interest, and that uniformity would bring clarity and predictability to Collaborative Practice, the Uniform Law Commission created a Drafting Committee for a Uniform Collaborative Law Act which began its work in 2007.

In the summer of 2009, the Uniform Law Commission (“ULC”) approved, by unanimous vote, the Uniform Collaborative Law Act, the stated purpose of which is:

to support the continued development and growth of collaborative law by making it a more uniform, accessible dispute resolution option for parties.”

After approval of the UCLA in 2009, the Uniform Act was expanded to contain the same content in the form of rules, so that each state would have the option of incorporating the content in a statute enacted by the state legislature, or rules enacted by the state’s judiciary.

Adoption of the UCLA is an important milestone in Collaborative Practice in each jurisdiction. Adoption of the UCLA will:

  • Provide uniformity from state to state, thus making the process more accessible;
  • Assure that the process is voluntary;
  • Provide consistency from state to state regarding enforceability of collaborative law agreements;
  • Assure that prospective parties are informed of the material benefits and risks of the process;
  • Protect against parties inadvertently or inappropriately entering the process;
  • Assure confidentiality of communications in the process;
  • Provide a privilege, allowing the parties to communicate freely in the process;
  • Provide a stay of court and other adversarial proceedings while parties are in the process;
  • Establish when the Collaborative Process begins and ends;
  • Provide for obtaining emergency orders;
  • Eliminate difficult choice of law determinations;
  • Make special provisions for pro bono representation of low-income clients; and
  • Enable governmental entities to use the process.

The future growth and development of the Collaborative Process has significant benefits for our client community and our various professions. Codifying the Collaborative Process makes it a more accessible dispute resolution option for parties who wish to resolve disputes promptly, economically, and in a non-adversarial manner.

In 2014, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) established a UCLA Advisory Task Force to monitor UCLA efforts nationwide and to assist organizations in states seeking to enact the statute or adopt court rules. Let us help you. As of this date, 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted the UCLA, adopted court rules, or a combination of statutes and court rules.

Please feel free to contact any member of the Task Force. We want to help you in any way we can to bring the UCLA/Rules to your state. A list of Task Force members can be found on the IACP website along with their personal contact information.

If your jurisdiction has already passed the UCLA, the Advisory Task Force would love to learn how the UCLA is doing in your state. How can we help?

Lastly, different countries around the world have begun to express an interest in the adoption of Collaborative statutes or rules. Canada has recently passed a Collaborative Practice statute, which is now being utilized in every province in Canada. At every IACP Forum, our Task Force does a presentation. Last year, we had people from Germany, Italy and Japan at the seminar, all extremely interested in how to bring the Collaborative Process to their country. This is a significant tool in moving Collaborative Practice forward. Be a part of the movement. Contact the Task Force to share how things are going in your jurisdiction or contact us to see how we can help you. Our goal is to have the UCLA adopted uniformly throughout all of our diverse geographical jurisdictions.