Does any practice group have a protocol for addressing client complaints

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Post Author
January 22, 2019

My client has asked me how she can file a complaint about the adversarial/positional approach adopted by the other “collaborative” lawyer.

4 years ago I was one of the lawyers who assisted in collaboratively negotiating a separation agreement.

One of the terms of that agreement was to review the amount of spousal support 3 years after signing the document to determine whether the amount being paid should be varied.

My original collaborative colleague for the other party had retired by the time the review was triggered.

A partner at that firm who has received collaborative training but has not experienced very many collaborative files took over the file and adopted a very adversarial approach.

In fairness to her I believe she was doing so at the direction of her clients instructions.

There was initially huge resistance to even having a collaborative meeting as the other lawyer said her client wanted to maintain the option of litigation using her or her firm as his litigation counsel.

Unfortunately, the original separation agreement did not stipulate with absolute certainty that the collaborative process would be used for subsequent reviews and it was necessary to revert to the Participation Agreement and first principles to eventually have the other side agree to what was supposed to be a collaborative meeting.

It failed miserably and now both parties have retained litigation counsel.

Does any other practice group have a protocol for addressing these kinds of complaints against the behavior or conduct of group members.

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March 30, 2019

Hi Erik. Unfortunately there is not usually anything in place to deal with this type of situation. I would suggest having the client bring it to the attention of the chair of the practice group so they at least know that it has occurred. Sometimes there is some discretion to allow a group member to renew (or not) their membership, or perhaps there are requirements that the group may want to initiate for all members. Chances are, those members who don’t truly practice collaborative will not abide by those requirements, which may be attending a minimum number of group meetings, or acquiring a minimum number of collaborative training hours. I hope this helps!

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May 4, 2019

Our group has a disciplinary process set out in the bylaws. If a complaint is made against a member for not following the principles of collaborative law then a panel of three members is convened to look into the matter. The panel has various remedies available including mentorship or even termination of membership. It has never been used.
Notably there is no definition of the principles of collaborative law.

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May 4, 2019

Hi Susan. Can you please share a copy of this provision in your bylaws? You can email me at jadelson@adelsonlaw.ca.
Thanks!

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