The practice of law is changing, and clients are seeking new ways to resolve disputes. Aside from mediation, many are turning to collaborative law approaches in order to handle their legal problems much more amicably, thereby avoiding the costly and often contentious litigation process.
In fact, this October, the Illinois State Bar Association’s Board of Governors approved a proposal that would approve collaborative law legislation and create a new rule of Professional Conduct that would be used strictly within the family law setting.
Two months later, the ISBA Assembly followed suit also approving the proposal at its Annual Midyear meeting this past December.
The collaborative law proposal would offer those looking to dissolve their marriages an alternative to a contested divorce. It allows separating couples the opportunity to work with lawyers on a more limited basis in order to reach a settlement, removing litigation from the equation.
According to the ISBA, the new rule of Professional Conduct – Rule 2.5 – would avoid the separation of powers issue that arose in 2013 with Senate Bill 31 (a bill that included components regulating the practice of law, which historically is province of the Courts). The rule requires a collaborative process agreement to be signed with the informed consent of those seeking separation. The amendment “prohibits attorneys from being involved in a collaborative proceeding from appearing before a tribunal unless it’s to comply with the procedural rules necessary to facilitate the proceeding, to seek approval of an agreement arising from the profess, or to seek/defend a petition for an emergency order related to health, safety, welfare, or interest of a party.”
The approval of this collaborative law rule wasn’t the only hot button issue addressed at this December’s ISBA Midyear. The ISBA also reviewed the adoption of ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), opposing its recommendation in Illinois. In addition, the approval of the ISBA futures report and UBE were also both buzzed about across the state.
As the profession continues to evolve, so too will the practices here in Illinois. As these and many more changes come our way, the Commission on Professionalism is here to inform lawyers and the public.