Do I have to have a lawyer at my mediation?
No, it is not necessary to have a lawyer representing you at mediation. If you have a lawyer already representing your interests in the dispute you would need to discuss this with him or her. If you feel you need legal advice or that you are unqualified or uncomfortable dealing with the issues on your own, then you should consult a lawyer and perhaps hire someone on an hourly basis solely for the purpose of representing you at the mediation.
If, on the other hand, you are involved in a dispute that you feel comfortable resolving without a lawyer, keeping in mind that your mediator will not give you legal advice or advocate on your behalf, by all means, make an attempt to resolve it on your own first.
Do remember that the other party has a right to hire an attorney and to bring them to the mediation to help represent them. If that scenario occurs, there will be no one to advocate your interests. You will not have a right to delay the mediation to hire your own attorney.
Mediation is a voluntary process that centers on discussions and decision-making, rather than judgment. It is focused on resolving disputes based on the factual circumstances, the needs of the parties and practicality, and not solely on the legal rights of the parties (sometimes, despite those rights). Often, the mere presence of an attorney creates an antagonistic and adversarial atmosphere that impedes resolution rather than assisting it.
It has been my experience that when the parties have attorneys and those attorneys are actively helping to resolve the issues, the mediation is more successful. This does not mean that representing yourself in mediation is a no-win situation. I have conducted many mediations where one or more parties were self represented.
About the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator. He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment. He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.
© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.