The First four-way meeting Checklist

The discussion of collaborative process as part of ADR and the Continuum: where it fits and how it works in comparison to other conflict resolution processes, Seriousness of good faith commitments etc.

  • Ethical commitments of lawyers and parties.
  • Comparison with mediation and with conventional representation.
  • Comparison with litigation-template representation. Comparative speed, cost, benefits, risks.
  • The three estates: separate, marital, and "invisible" or "relational."
  • The role of the lawyers: specialists in conflict management and guided negotiations, not gladiators.
  • The role of the clients: experts in facts and needs; responsible for all ultimate decisions made in process and responsible for helping to generate settlement options.
  • Discussion of how collaborative lawyer's role is different from conventional lawyer 
  • Discussion of potential risks of collaborative process (including possible termination by other party and loss of lawyer) 
  • Discussion of costs, speed, etc. 
  • Discussion of interdisciplinary collaboration

Road map of collaborative process [legal side only, not Interdisciplinary team process]

  • Map of legal divorce process in this state, and interface with collaborative process
  • Sequence of probable agendas for four-way meetings:
  • First Four-way: introduction, setting container, signing documents, scheduling future meetings.
  • Second Four-way: "Walk around the Estate," statement of highest intentions and goals for the collaborative process, begin list of interests and goals, agree on schedule for sharing documents and information, attend to interim cashflow and other urgent matters, plan agenda for third Four-way.
  • Third and Subsequent Fourways: exchange information, bring in neutrals as needed, brainstorm and evaluate settlement possibilities, negotiate terms of agreement, assign responsibility for preparation of draft agreements.
  • Final Four-way: review and sign divorce agreement and procedural divorce papers, review and evaluate collaborative process, discuss likely future "roadbumps" and how they will be addressed, closing "ceremony" if any.

Discussion of core principles and guiding metaphors for Collaborative

  • Transparency and accountability.
  • The shadow client and the agreement to remind client of stated highest intentions and goals rather than being alter ego for shadow client.
  • Flooding and its impact on clear thinking.
  • The sack race: we go at the pace of the slowest person in the room.
  • Whitewater rafting: there will be rough spots, and the guides (the lawyers) are the experts in how to navigate them. 
  • Mountain climbing.
  • The arena for training horses.
  • Crossing the dark forest, and avoiding cutting down trees. 
  • The topographical map. 
  • A peculiar kind of race: the goal is that everyone crosses the finish line at the same time. 
  • Medical analogies: the court as intensive care unit or emergency room; preventive and primary care best delivered elsewhere.

Orientation to interest-based vs. Positional bargaining
And need for peeling the onion. The place of the law in the collaborative process. Enlightened self-interest, rather than greed or altruism

  • No threats of court.
  • Win-win, or "good enough," as the goal.
  • Avoiding concept of "fair," substituting concept of "acceptable."
  • Cartoon sketch of disfavored bargaining styles: Scandinavian, Soviet Cold War, Mediterranean Marketplace.
  • Deconstructing the law: where it comes from, what it can and cannot do, what it is, and is not. Legal rights as the default setting if clients can't come up with something more tailored to their needs.
  • Interest-based bargaining model: the story of the orange.
  • The goal is not the quickest agreement, but the best and most lasting agreement. 
  • We don't discuss resolution until we have completed exploring facts and expanding range of options to be considered.

Behavioral and modeling issues

  • Lawyers are responsible for keeping the negotiating space safe and civilized.
  • Only constructive good faith bargaining permitted.
  • Caucuses OK to recover composure or confer with counsel.
  • Easy issues first to build confidence in new, effective ways of problem solving to replace old habits.
  • Review and sign collaborative documents,
  • identify immediate urgent issues: e.G., temporary support,
  • house payments, and agree on timing and sequence for addressing them.
  • Agree on interim measures without prejudice
  • Assign homework for second fourway
  • Assign which lawyer prepares post-meeting memorandum.
  • Clients to work on statement of highest intentions for collaborative process for self, other, and children, for next meeting.
  • Clients to gather documents, prepare draft income and expense declarations, prepare draft schedules of assets and debts, if lawyers will facilitate disclosure phase. If financial neutral will assist, clients will work with that person.
  • Agree on agenda for second four-way meeting 
  • Schedule three or four, four-way meetings
You are here: Home NEWS, INFORMATION AND TESTIMONIALS Latest The First four-way meeting Checklist