Jones Collaborative Estates is one of the first trust and estate practices in North Carolina to overtly commit its dispute resolution work to the Collaborative Law model. The Collaborative Law model focuses on resolving legal issues before a lawsuit is ever filed, a focus aimed at saving heartache and saving money. It results in a binding, enforceable agreement arrived at through a client-driven resolution process. In this process family members meet in a series of carefully structured conferences that are supported and guided by specially trained attorneys to reach a fair and reasonable settlement. The attorneys in the Collaborative Law model agree to restrict the scope of their representation to helping family members reach such a settlement. If a settlement is impossible, which is rare, then different attorneys will be engaged to take the matter to court.
Collaborative Law is distinct from the mediations that often result from traditional litigation in several ways. The two most significant differences may be (1) its timing in occurring prior to a lawsuit being filed, when data suggests that most individuals are far more capable of compromising and de-escalating their disputes; and (2) the attorneys involved being prohibited from filing a lawsuit in the case if the collaboration fails, increasing their motivation to achieve a resolution.
Absent "pure" Collaborative processes, there remain many non-court options for resolving cases. These include simple pre-litigation mediation and other informal methods that still keep your case insulated from litigation costs. "Pure" (or "traditional") Collaborative Law requires all attorneys involves to waive their right to otherwise represent their clients in subsequent litigation. It is not always possible for all attorneys to agree to this limitation. When possible, the litigation waiver is an excellent tool to fully commit parties and their attorneys to get a case resolved. It is the equivalent of both parties "putting their guns down" in what is otherwise a standoff or actual shootout.
Not every case is well-suited for out-of-court resolution. Some cases are best resolved in court, such as matters between parties without a preexisting relationship and/or matters with risks of time-sensitive/irreparable harm such as ongoing embezzlement or duress. Jason maintains several close ties with some of the most experienced trust and estate litigators across the state and he can and does make referrals to litigation counsel in such instances.
In rare cases Jones Collaborative Estates will engage directly in litigation, but it is always an act of last resort.