National Public Radio recently reported on the story of two goats who got stuck on a bridge. It seems these two goats left the confinement of their yard to explore what lay on the other side of a bridge. But the route they chose was an 8 inch support girder beam under a major highway bridge over a ravine, and there was an obstacle partway across. The first goat in front was able to turn around, but the goat behind was stuck. Now they were head to head, each unable to move forward without butting the other goat to its destruction.
This is such an apt metaphor for people in litigation.
Most people don’t intend to get into such a jam when they start down the litigation pathway. They just need to change their circumstances, to cross the bridge in hopes of finding greener pastures, and believe a lawsuit is the only route to do this. And sometimes they make it successfully across the bridge. But sometimes they encounter obstacles that delay or block the route to their success, and the only way for one to survive is for the other to be sacrificed.
Fortunately, our goats ended up safe and sound. They were rescued by a team of creative employees of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. These men and women collaborated to borrow equipment and try new techniques with a single goal—to bring both goats to safety. You can read more about their story here from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and here on NPR.
This is what the collaborative team does for its clients. The attorneys and neutrals work together to assess what each client needs, to facilitate creative solutions to meet those needs, and don’t quit until each of the clients is safely on the other side of the conflict.
If you would like pictures of the team who rescued the goats, click here. If you would like pictures of the collaborative team who can assist you in your legal problem, click here. We’d like to help you safely cross your bridge.
People of faith can find themselves in serious conflicts which require the help of others to resolve. There may be conflicts between spouses, within families, between friends and business associates, or even within faith communities. And like all conflicts, some of these by necessity or preference wind up in court. This can raise a huge problem. Courts are limited by a fundamental legal principle called the Religious Question Doctrine, from the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Those clauses are intended to promote religious freedom, and so courts are barred from deciding any questions related to religious practice or doctrine. Unfortunately, a practical downside is that courts avoid taking faith traditions of either side into account when deciding the outcome of a case. What happens when someone wants to resolve a dispute while giving respect to the principles or values of their faith?
Courts avoid taking faith traditions into account when deciding the outcome of a case.
Fortunately, a lawsuit isn’t the only way to resolve legal issues. The Collaborative Law process can be ideal for doing this. It is a structured legal process that occurs out of court, and the decision makers are the parties themselves. In the collaborative process, the professional collaborative team guides people in conflict to work together to craft a solution to their problems in a safe, private and respectful manner, with room to take into account the heart beliefs that really matter to the people involved.
The Collaborative Law Process takes into account the heart beliefs, allowing participants to craft legal solutions that address their underlying values and interests.
In the collaborative process, ground rules are agreed in advance by signing a formal contract. These ground rules include the commitment of both sides to voluntarily and completely share all important information before reaching agreements. Each party is represented by a dedicated settlement attorney who is trained to protect the process, and his or her client. Specially trained neutral professionals, like mediators, financial specialists, and child and family specialists, can be brought in as needed to facilitate communication, or to assist in gathering and evaluating information. Solutions are crafted that address not only the legal dispute, but the underlying values and interests of the parties.