In October, the ISBA Board of Governors approved a proposal to support legislation and a new Rule of Professional Conduct that would expressly allow collaborative law in family law settings. The proposal now goes to the ISBA Assembly for consideration at its meeting Saturday, December 10.
Collaborative law is a process whereby attorneys work with parties to a divorce to reach a settlement and, ideally, avoid expensive and contentious litigation. The proposal under consideration would expressly allow divorcing couples to work with lawyers on a limited-scope basis to try to reach a settlement and avoid litigation.
In 2013, Senate Bill 31 was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. It was an attempt to adopt the Collaborative Law Act as drafted by the Uniform Law Commission. The bill failed. The ISBA formally opposed SB 31 primarily due to separation of powers issues - the bill had components that would regulate the practice of law, which is the province of the supreme court, not the legislature.
Past President Umberto Davi appointed a committee to revisit the issue. The group drafted a proposed statute and an amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct that would allow collaborative law in a family law setting, but without triggering the separation of powers issue that prompted the ISBA to oppose the previous bill. Find out more about the proposal and collaborative law in general in the December Illinois Bar Journal.