HARTFORD, CT - While many industries thrive on constant change, the legal community is not a place where significant change occurs often, particularly here in Connecticut - the land of steady habits. However, a group of Connecticut attorneys are seeking to change that by introducing an entirely new type of business dispute resolution to the Connecticut legal landscape.
Collaborative Divorce has rapidly gained popularity in the last 15 years as a way to resolve divorce disputes without the time and expense of going to court. Now a group of fifteen Connecticut attorneys have come together to offer that same process to the business community. The newly formed group, called Collaborative Business Dispute Resolution (CBDR), provides an alternative to litigation, arbitration, and mediation and is the first of its kind in the state.
“Our goal is to avoid litigation, save time and money by working together to reach a fair result to both parties,” explains Attorney Nicholas Paindiris, Managing Partner of Brown Paindiris & Scott. “We have seen the collaborative concept work successfully in the area of family law and recognize a need to apply this process to business and other civil disputes.”
The collaborative method differs from mediation, when one neutral professional works with the parties to resolve disputes. The mediator assists the parties in understanding each other’s points of view and developing settlement options. The mediator cannot give legal advice or advocate for either party
In collaborative dispute resolution, both parties have an attorney advocating on their behalf while working collaboratively toward a mutual resolution. The process requires a commitment at the outset that the parties act in good faith to settle the case without filing a lawsuit. The participating lawyers are vested in the success of the collaborative process, and are contractually disqualified to represent their client in court if the case is not settled, providing a huge incentive for everyone to succeed. Although parties have the option to litigate if the collaborative process is not successful, having to retain a new lawyer to handle the lawsuit creates a financial incentive for all parties to work toward a fair settlement.
The benefits of collaborative business dispute resolution include:
Saving money and time to achieve speedier resolutions.
Reducing the risk and uncertainty of litigation.
Allowing each party to participate in structuring a resolution.
Allowing each party to take an active role in tailoring solutions to the particular needs of their business.
Accessing the skills, talent, and experience of other professionals who can make a difference.
Working in a respectful, private, and dignified environment and preserve a relationship that may be worth keeping.
Keeping all options open.
“One of the key benefits of this process is that the parties are not limited to the same constraints that a Court may be in fashioning a remedy. Many times the relief available in Court may be limited due to the legal authority which the Courts must apply. Often these remedies are inadequate or impractical for parties who need to keep their business operational throughout the process. The collaborative process allows parties to prioritize the issues at hand and to consider and present many alternative solutions. This can be especially important in a situation where the dispute will result in some type of transition process, such as the buyout of one owner of a closely-held business by another. The parties can plan out each step, minimizing disruption of the business interests at issue,” said Attorney Bridget C. Gallagher, another member of the group.
There is no set fee for the use of the collaborative process. Representation requires a fee agreement between the attorney and client, and time is generally billed by the hour. Jointly-retained professionals are paid separately. However, the time spent in a collaborative meeting is much more cost-efficient than court time, in that the attorney’s time is solely focused upon resolving the client’s case. In addition, parties agree to an open exchange of relevant information at the outset of the matter, eliminating the often costly process known as discovery.
Another member, Brian Henebry of Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey, noted that “any litigator will tell you that clients’ frustrations with the cost of litigation often arise from the time and expense of the discovery process, which typically precedes any serious settlement discussions. The collaborative process minimizes the cost of the information exchange so that parties can devote their resources toward resolving the dispute, not getting the information needed to resolve the dispute. It is not appropriate for every business dispute, but it offers huge benefits to clients where it can be applied.”
Bloomfield attorney David Markowitz noted, “I have been practicing for over 30 years, and this is a new and exciting legal adventure for me. The collaborative process makes sense to me, because in appropriate cases it is a faster, less expensive way for business owners to resolve a dispute and keep their focus on growing their business, not their legal bills.”
Collaborative Business Dispute Resolution (CBDR) is a group of independent Connecticut attorneys who utilize a non-adversarial team approach to resolve business, probate, property or other civil disputes without court involvement. All members have been specifically trained in the collaborative process and have at least ten years of experience in the practice of law. For more information and for a list of members visit: http://collabbusinessdispute.com.