As of December 31, 2016, legal ethics opinions in twelve states have addressed Collaborative Law:
Minnesota (1997), North Carolina (2002), Pennsylvania (2004), Maryland (2004), Kentucky (2005), New Jersey (2005), Colorado (2007), Washington (2007), Missouri (2008), South Carolina (2010), Alaska (2011) and North Dakota (2013).
All state ethics opinions, except the Colorado opinion, approve the use of Collaborative Law with appropriate precautions, such as the importance of obtaining informed consent from all parties before participating in the process.
In August 2007, in response to the Colorado opinion the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 07-477, which squarely supports Collaborative Law provided that all parties have been informed about the benefits and risks of participating in the process, and given their informed consent.
Although the ABA Ethics Opinion is not binding on states, it has been and will continue to be persuasive as ethical opinions are issued by other states in the future. It should be noted that three states, South Carolina, Alaska and North Dakota, issued opinions subsequent to the ABA Opinion approving collaborative law, and quoting extensively from the ABA Opinion.
In October, 2009, the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Collaborative Law Committee issued a Discussion Draft entitled Summary of Ethics Rules Governing Collaborative Practice, The white paper addresses ethical issues considered in all of the state court opinions and ABA Formal Opinion 07-477.
In 2014, the ABA Collaborative Law Committee’s white paper was updated: Update of 2009 Summary of Ethics Rules Governing Collaborative Practice. The update reviews the state ethics opinions published subsequent to the 2009 Summary of Ethics Rules, and provides references and links to additional articles and papers addressing ethics in collaborative practice.