In litigation, there is always a tension between trial and settlement. One of the biggest strategy challenges a lawyer faces in the litigation process is trying to be a diplomat and a battle leader at the same time. Essentially, it’s trying to balance a diplomat’s hat and a war general’s hat on the attorney’s head at the same time.
In the litigation process, even if the parties are intent on settlement, the lawyer still has to in some fashion keep his or her “war general” hat on. One of the biggest strategy challenges for a litigating lawyer is to avoid trying too hard to settle when they should be preparing for trial, and to avoid pushing too hard to prepare for trial when they should be exploring settlement options.
It is hard to serve the two masters of dispute resolution – trial and settlement – at the same time. It is hard to simultaneously fully prepare for trial and keep everyone calm enough to be open to settlement options. And, therefore, it’s hard to wear both the diplomat and war general hat in a divorce situation in which the courtroom looms as the destination for deciding what happens.
In the Collaborative Law process, the focus is solely on settlement. This allows the advocate to focus everything he or she does on increasing the likelihood of settlement, without being worried about being caught short at the courthouse because of a failure to request or respond to formal discovery. And, to extend our analogy a little further, it allows the lawyer to only have to wear one hat.