Consulting Counsel in Mediation
With the use of private mediation, increasing numbers of clients are asking lawyers to provide a new kind of service, as “Consulting Counsel” for them in mediation. When I am not acting as Mediator, I often work as a Consulting Attorney to one party in private divorce mediation. Not only have my clients been pleased to have an attorney help them through the process, the entire mediation process benefits when a skilled professional like myself takes a global view of the process and helps my client bring about a balanced resolution.
For many, negotiating on their own is scary and since the Mediator cannot legally advise them, they can feel insecure making a decision. Where fear or insecurity gets too big, it can threaten the process, stall the process or end the process. Any of these roadblocks will cost time and money. While there is an added layer of expense in paying for “consults” with an attorney, it is significantly less than retaining an attorney full time AND in my experience, both parties feel better about the process and more secure in the settlement agreement when they have some guidance from their own attorney along the way.
My role as a Consulting Attorney is to be proactive in the process by engaging in any or all of these ways:
1. Providing the client with information concerning the law and possible outcomes;
2. Working with client in between mediation meetings to help the client prepare;
3. Keeping the client’s expectations reasonable and in line with what is reasonable under the law;
4. Attending mediation with my client if that is reasonable under the circumstances;
4. Taking a global view of the mediation with an emphasis on helping the client reach a balanced resolution.
In most cases the idea is to act as an outside aid to the client and facilitate his or her own decision-making. You are looking for someone to help you feel secure about your decisions. “Taking over” the mediation process or becoming overly adversarial is not the point. If you seek out an attorney like that, you will derail your process. In other cases, the point is to have your attorney with you during the mediation to help settle the case. You are looking for assistance negotiating and reaching a fair and reasonable settlement. Additionally, you want to be certain the document you are signing reflects the agreement you are reaching.
Acting as a Consulting Attorney makes sense for me and for my practice that is 100% rooted in out of court problem solving. I bring a high degree of skill, training, experience and sensitivity to the role. Moreover, if you hire me as your Consulting Counsel, I have a list of other mediators and collaborative attorneys who know me and how I work who could be available to your spouse. They are independent lawyers, highly skilled in the law and representation of their client and at the same time are trained to work in a collaborative way so as not to force the case into hostile litigation.
In closing, as your Consulting Counsel in mediation, I will play a positive role in helping the process, helping you understand your options and helping you reach a balanced outcome.