The advantages of using a solicitor mediator
At first glance the term solicitor mediator might appear to some to be an oxymoron, are they not very different professions? The simple answer is yes. The role of a solicitor includes providing legal advice, acting on instructions and protecting a client’s best interests whilst a mediator is unable to give advice, remains impartial, facilitates communication and assists clients to resolve disputes by making their own decisions. The common ground, however, is that both roles involve the management of expectations which is where the solicitor mediator has the advantage over non lawyer mediators by having the knowledge and expertise to provide appropriate neutral legal information. It is important to point out that although mediation is about clients reaching an agreement which seems fair to both of them, if they are unable to resolve their issues the likelihood is that a Court application will be made. A solicitor mediator will be aware of the likely outcome, is able to talk through the factors taken into account by the Judge or Magistrates when considering what order to make and enable clients to make informed decisions. They can also highlight any part of the client’s proposed agreement which is potentially legally unenforceable. There is also the benefit of ensuring that clients cover all relevant issues in their negotiations so that the final decisions have no missing details.
Since mediated agreements are not legally binding. It is common practice for clients to take mediated agreements to their solicitors for conversion into either separation agreements or court orders. Solicitor mediators are experienced in preparing detailed written agreements which solicitors can easily convert into draft orders saving both angst and expense.
Being involved in any legal process can be acrimonious and distressing. As a solicitor mediator I feel privileged in having the resources to guide clients through an alternative way of reaching resolution which allows them to resolve matters themselves, keep control of their own decision making and maintain a working relationship with the other party.