The idea of attorneys acting cooperatively is not new.  Most attorneys settle most of their cases; if they did not, courts would be clogged for decades as clients awaited their day for judgment.  Many times, however, cases are not settled until days before trial, or ‘on the courthouse steps’.    This may be due to the personalities of the parties, their willingness to reach a fair agreement, or due to the lack of trust and chemistry between attorneys.  The Cooperative Practice Network of Minnesota (CPN) was formed to help foster trust and to give clients choice or control over how to gather information and ultimately reach a resolution to their matter.  Sometimes, a judicial officer’s input is necessary and unavoidable; if that is the case, the facts can be presented to the court in a respectful fashion without either party or attorney feeling as though they’ve been beaten up.  Attorneys and clients who agree to behave cooperatively establish ground rules at the outset so that information can be exchanged quickly and efficiently.  The cooperative method of engaging clients also works well when the attorneys on a case are unfamiliar with each other, and practitioners find it very effective for three reasons:

1-      Client involvement is necessary and expected

2-      Information gathering and negotiations are efficient, and

3-      It allows the parties to resolve disputes effectively and efficiently, whether through the use of a CSM, Arbitration, the ENE process, or direct hearings before the judge (or a combination thereof).

Information can be found at