In mediation, there is one “neutral” who helps the disputing parties try to settle their case. The mediator cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot help either side advocate its position. If one side or the other becomes unreasonable, lacks negotiating skill, or is emotionally distraught, the mediation can become unbalanced, and if the mediator tries to deal with the problem, the mediator is often seen by one side or the other as biased. If the mediator does not find a way to solve the problem, the mediation will fail or the agreement will be unfair. If there are attorneys for the parties at all, they may not be present at the negotiation sessions and their advice may come too late to be helpful. If there are no attorneys involved, the parties do not have professional advice regarding the agreement is in their best interests.
Collaborative Practice is designed to deal more effectively with all these problems, while keeping the same commitment to settlement. Each side has professional legal advice and advocacy at all times during the process. If one side or the other lacks negotiating skill or financial understanding, the playing field is leveled by the presence of the trained advocates. It is the job of the lawyers to work with their own clients if the clients are being unreasonable, to ensure that the process stays positive and productive.