What is the difference between collaborative law and mediation?

In mediation, there is one "neutral" who helps the disputing parties try to settle their case. The parties do not have the benefit of legal counsel to advise them. The mediator cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot help either side advocate its position. If either party becomes unreasonable or is emotionally distraught, or lacks negotiating skill, the mediation can become unbalanced. If the mediator tries to deal with the problem, the mediator is often seen by one side or the other as biased, whether or not that is so. If the mediator is unable to deal with the problem, the mediation can break down, or the agreement that results can be unfair.

Collaborative Law was designed to deal more effectively with all these problems, while maintaining the same commitment to settlement as the sole agenda. Each side has quality legal advice at all times during the process. Even if one side or the other lacks negotiating skill or financial understanding, or is emotionally upset or angry, the playing field is leveled by the presence of the skilled advocates. It is the job of the lawyers to work with their own clients if the clients are being unreasonable; to make sure that the process stays positive and productive.