Legal conflicts over water often involve multiple stakeholders with varying levels of technical knowledge and political power along with passionately-felt values, needs and fears. Positions can be entrenched and degrees of trust are often low. How can attorneys encourage parties to work collaboratively in this type of environment? What do parties need in order to engage in a collaborative process, outside of litigation? What contributes to building a credible, productive problem-solving process and ensuring key stakeholders are at the table?
CDR’s Ryan Golten was a featured panelist at the American Bar Association’s Water Law Conference in Austin this March to address these questions with an audience of roughly 200 water attorneys. Along with fellow panelist Eric Hecox of South Metro Water Supply Authority, she discussed strategies and approaches for engaging parties in collaborative approaches to multi-party water disputes and transactions. Her discussion and paper included case-study examples to illustrate how to assess the workability of a collaborative approach, structure a credible process, and ensure key stakeholders are involved, along with other strategies to set up a problem-solving process to help ensure a successful, broadly supported outcome.