Do you need a lawyer?

 

You are not normally required to have a lawyer represent you in mediation.

The important question is whether it is desirable or advisable for you to have a lawyer represent you in mediation.

Lawyers cost money. That is a perfectly understandable reason why you might prefer to come to mediation without a lawyer.

If expense absolutely precludes you from obtaining the services of a lawyer, read no further. But if there is a possibility you could obtain the services of a lawyer, read on.

As a mediator, I  like the parties to achieve good outcomes. Here are some ways lawyers can help you achieve a good outcome:

  • Lawyers can give on the spot advice about the law. Whether you like it or not, legal considerations often come into mediation. Bear in mind that even if the mediator is a lawyer, the mediator will not give you legal advice. Only a lawyer representing you can do that. Bear in mind also that the objective is to sign off on a legally binding agreement before the mediation conference concludes. The option of delaying settlement pending legal advice being obtained is fraught with risk, and so is generally not welcomed by mediators.

 

  • Lawyers can often express your views more clearly and persuasively that you can. They are used to putting arguments. They know how to negotiate. In short, a lawyer can be a useful advocate and mouthpiece.

 

  • Lawyers are a source of objective advice about your case. They are not emotionally caught up in the case as you are likely to be. They will therefore be able to see more clearly than you whether your arguments, and those of the other party are strong or weak. They will give you advice about that, whether palatable or not. This enables you to adopt a realistic and advantageous position.

 

  • Lawyers can provide you with comfort and support during mediation  which is often tiring and difficult.

 

  • If there are other lawyers involved in the mediation, you may be at a disadvantage if you do not have one as well.

 

There are some reasons, apart from expense, why it may be better not to be represented by a lawyer:

  • Your dispute may have become legalistic, focusing too much on rights, and too little on interests.
  • You may be better off talking directly to the other party than through your lawyer. Possibly some open and honest communication between you and the other party is the main requirement to settle your dispute.
  • There may be no or few legal considerations in your case.
  • The other party may be put off if you come with a lawyer.
  • You are able to bring someone else with you to the mediation to support you and if necessary tell you things that you would prefer not to hear.

 

If you are not sure whether or not to bring a lawyer with you to the mediation conference, then it is a good idea to discuss it with the mediator.