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In 1990, Minneapolis divorce attorney Stu Webb was burned out and ready to call it a day. He had been practicing family law for 26 years, and he was done with the adversarial nature of litigation. Stu had a plan to quit his law practice, but he decided to quit ‘outrageously’ and try something completely different—working WITH the other lawyer toward a settlement for the divorcing couple. The concept worked, and Stu became the founding father of collaborative divorce.

Stu began to share information with small groups of like-minded lawyers across the country and built a community of professionals dedicated to out-of-court settlements through organizations like the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota. Today, collaborative law is helping families transition with dignity in 23 countries around the world. Stu retired in 2012, after 48 years of law practice. His legacy includes the co-authorship of The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs and Happier Kids—Without Going to Court.

Today, Stu joins Katherine to explain how he conceived of the collaborative divorce model. He describes how he built a community of professionals to support the collaborative process, discussing the evolution of the practice to include neutral mental health and financial experts. Stu speaks to the relationship between lawyers as the primary asset of collaborative law, offering insight around the nature of ‘winning’ in a litigious setting. Listen in to understand the advantages of the collaborative process, including the transparent exchange of information and the creation of a safe space to identify common goals.

Topics Covered

How Stu’s background as a litigator moved him to devise a different way to divorce

Stu’s AHA moment around handing cases that couldn’t be settled over to litigators

How Stu built a community of professionals to support the collaborative process

How Stu came to name the collaborative divorce model

Why people make poor decisions when pressured to settle ‘on the courtroom steps’

The professional insights provided by mental health, financial neutrals in the interdisciplinary model

How the relationship between lawyers differs in litigation vs. collaborative law

Stu’s take on litigation as a performance in which lawyers are expected to win

How the collaborative process supports clients in creating their own solution

The value of the transparent exchange of information in the collaborative model

How the privacy involved in the process allows participants to be more forthcoming

The advantages of the collaborative process

  • Establishes safe space for difficult conversations
  • Identifies common goals

Stu’s insight on the application of collaborative law to other civil matters


Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota



Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deal and Disputes by Robert H. Mnookin, Scott R. Peppet and Andrew S. Tulumello

The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids—Without Going to Court by Stuart G. Webb and Ron Ousky


The Center for Understanding Conflict

Miller Law Group

Katherine on LinkedIn

The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller

Email katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

Call (914) 738-7765