The formal filing of a petition with a court that has jurisdiction over the dispute and the parties. The petition requires a timely answer from the party against whom the suit is filed. All activities in the suit must follow the Rules of Civil Procedures and Rules of Evidence. The Court issues a scheduling order which sets out deadlines for pre-trial procedures and a trial date.

Collaborative Law

Also known as the Collaborative Dispute Resolution Process – is a method whereby the parties agree to resolve their disputes without court intervention.

Participation Agreement

A contract between the parties and their attorneys setting out the guidelines to be followed in the collaborative process.

Collaborative Attorney

A Lawyer who has been trained in the use of the Collaborative Dispute Resolution Process.

Protocols of Practice

  The Protocols address the fundamentals of the collaborative process, and are designed to provide guidance to attorneys using the process to resolve civil disputes.

Jointly Engaged Expert

A person with professional expertise who is engaged by all parties of a dispute to give an opinion on specific facts or questions.

Face To Face Meetings

The method of communication (sometimes called “4-way meetings”) used in the collaborative process.

Informal Discovery

The voluntary response to a reasonable request to produce information or documents or to answer questions relevant to the dispute.

Formal Discovery

Includes court reporters taking depositions, written requests for answers to written interrogatories, and written requests for production of documents and tangible things. Requests may or may not be reasonable and often require court appearances to compel answers or attempt to stop unreasonable requests.


A dispute resolution process which employs the use of a neutral third party to facilitate an agreement between the parties.


A dispute resolution process which employs a single person or panel of three to hear the evidence and arguments of the parties and render a decision. The arbitrators’ decision may be binding or non-binding depending on the agreement of the parties.