Legal trendsetters celebrate a decade of collaborative practice

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Two of Yorkshire’s highest ranked family lawyers are celebrating ten years of supporting separating couples through collaborative family law.

Berwins’ Sarah Smith and Stephen Root were two of the first lawyers in the region to complete training in the practice, which is fast becoming the approach of choice for constructive, cost effective divorce or separation matters.

Sarah Smith, Berwins’ Managing Director and Yorkshire’s only Eminent Practitioner in family law, said:

At its heart, the collaborative approach is about helping people to maintain control and work towards an amicable solution.

In supporting clients at what is one of most difficult of times of their lives, we understand that putting people, and their best interests first is essential. We believe that the future focused nature of the collaborative approach offers long term benefits for separating couples as they look to move on and – especially when children are involved – manage ongoing contact.

The approach was pioneered in the US and Canada before coming to the UK in the early 2000s. It is now overseen by industry body Resolution; whose 6,500 members sign up to a code of conduct committing to a non-confrontational approach.

Reflecting on changes in the industry, Stephen Root added:

Back in 2007, the whole idea of collaborative practice was at the cutting edge of divorce law and it’s been fantastic to see how that has shifted to become the ‘norm’ for many lawyers.

We’ve come a long way since the start of my legal career, 30 years ago, when the standard procedure was to disclose as little as possible and only have serious negotiations as the final hearing approached.

Ultimately, this change of approach to one which is more constructive has both financial and emotional benefits for divorcing couples and to my mind, advances over the past decade have had a significant and positive impact on client experiences and the UK legal industry as a whole.



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