Do I Need a Lawyer for My Mediation Session?
Most mediation situations don't require the parties to obtain their own legal counsel. There are some situations when it is a good idea to seek a mediation lawyer to advise you regarding mediation. A mediation lawyer is an attorney who understands your legal issue and is familiar with the mediation process.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) involving the help of a neutral third party. It is designed to help people work through conflicts without needing a judge or legal proceedings. This is part of why lawyers are seldom needed in mediation situations. Unlike many laws and legal processes, the rules of mediation are straightforward and easy to understand. Most people can figure out the mediation process on their own.
This article discusses when to use a lawyer for mediation and factors to consider when selecting a mediation lawyer. It also offers tips for locating a mediation lawyer.
When Should You Use a Lawyer for Mediation?
In some situations, it is a good idea to consult with or obtain the services of a lawyer for mediation. This is the case, for instance, if your property rights are being affected.
A divorce process is often resolved through mediation. Consulting a divorce lawyer familiar with mediation before proceeding with family law mediation in family court can be beneficial. A divorce attorney can help divorcing couples avoid divorce litigation by utilizing mediation in a family law case. Many state courts, including Missouri, promote the use of mediation in child custody and support matters by court rule.
In contrast to arbitration, the third-party mediator will not decide the matter. The mediator works with the parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable agreement that resolves the dispute. If the parties reach agreement, an attorney can become a valuable tool for drafting or reviewing the final document. This is especially so when the final document will be a court order.
A mediation lawyer can also help you sort through the consequences of certain decisions. This will allow you to make the best decisions for yourself in mediation. You can even make obtaining a mediation lawyer's approval a condition of all settlement agreements made in mediation.
Considerations When Selecting a Mediation Lawyer
If you do decide to use a lawyer for your mediation process, consider the following:
- Find an attorney who supports mediation. Many lawyers prefer to act as zealous advocates for their clients because this is how they were trained. This can be detrimental to a mediation process that seeks to find a middle-ground agreement. Look for a mediation lawyer who can advise you on your legal issue and is familiar with how mediation works.
- Inquire about what the mediator expects regarding the involvement of attorneys at mediation. It's better to know upfront if attorneys must be present or if their availability to consult by phone as needed is acceptable.
- Find out if the other party to the mediation will have an attorney at the mediation or one available for legal coaching and drafting of an agreement. Mediation sessions work best when each side sees the process as balanced and fair.
- Make it clear to your lawyer that you want them to understand and support mediation. Your lawyer should be open to negotiation and compromise in reaching settlements and not focused on how a judge or jury may rule.
- Ask that your mediation lawyer be available to review all written agreements created during mediation before you sign them.
- Ensure that your lawyer has experience in the subject matter of your dispute. If you're seeking to mediate a divorce case, for instance, you'll want a family law attorney with experience in considering things like domestic violence, spousal support, child support, and parenting plans.
Additional Considerations When Selecting a Lawyer
Beyond the factors already mentioned above, you'll want to consider the following:
- Find out if the lawyer you're contemplating retaining has ever had clients in mediation before.
- Inquire about previous mediation outcomes and whether they were successful for the client.
- Pay close attention to the way a lawyer speaks about prior mediation experiences to get a feel for whether they support and respect the process.
- Ask the lawyer whether your state adopted the Uniform Mediation Act. Several states, including Illinois and Ohio, have adopted its key provisions. Can the attorney help you find the law so you can be familiar with its terms?
- Find out if the lawyer you're considering has been trained in mediation. If the lawyer has received mediation training, that lawyer is probably supportive of mediation. Of the two types of training, a lawyer who has received specialized training on how to represent clients through mediation is perhaps better equipped to represent you through your mediation.
- Be sure you understand the mediation lawyer's fees before you decide to hire them. Don't expect to receive a discounted mediation rate. Most lawyers charge their usual hourly rate. Mediation is generally a more cost-effective approach to resolving a dispute than going to trial.
- Be clear about what role your lawyer will take and what expectations your lawyer has of you.
Tips for Searching for a Mediation Lawyer
If you're not sure how to begin locating a good lawyer for your mediation sessions, consider the following tactics:
- Talk to people you know who have used lawyers in situations similar to your own.
- Avoid relying only on advertisements and directories.
- Find out specifics about how clients felt when working with certain lawyers.
- Find out what awards, recognitions, and community organizations your potential lawyer may have listed on their website or resume. This can say a lot about a lawyer.
You Don't Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer's Help
Are you involved in a family law matter or family law dispute, such as child support, child custody, alimony, or divorce mediation? Get legal advice. Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options for mediation services and how to protect your legal rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help represent your interests in an arbitration or mediation matter. Legal help is available to ensure a successful mediation.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.