Mediation is going to be a significant process for practitioners into the future, especially in view of the fact that the Court can now instruct/recommend parties to mediate. If the right attitude and approach is taken by the legal profession then this can certainly be a positive development for your practice and for your business.
When mediation becomes structured and embedded as a method of dispute resolution then the use of the court process will diminish. This could, on the face of it, appear to have the effect of reducing a source of income for practitioners. At one extreme some may feel that this development will “go away” and decide to ignore it; at the other, some may decide to train as mediators and become very involved in the process as mediators themselves – effectively adding it as a new section to the practice.
The approach of becoming a Mediator, is on face of it, the simplest approach, however it can raise a number of issues.
- Confusion in the Client’s mind (are you a litigator or a settler).
- Which type of advice are you giving?
- If you have a case for mediation will you be seen to be allowing a competing lawyer solve the problem for you?
It is interesting to see the experience from the USA where Mediation has been in active use for many years. Typically Mediation is undertaken by specialist companies who are not in the law business per se. This division of profession answers most of the perceived issues as raised above. However, lawyers at mediation must know and actively seek to acquaint themselves with the processes and procedures so as to be able to better advise and represent their clients in a different way and through a new and different forum.
The overall costs to a client, and ergo the income of the practitioner, are likely to be reduced but, it is suggested that, a professional approach and attitude to the evolution of mediation can offset this and also be greatly beneficial. At its simplest, cases will be settled at an earlier stage – improving cash-flow. Above all,
- Practitioners are much more likely to have satisfied clients in that they will have been more involved in coming to their own resolution of the dispute,
- It will be likely to have cost them less than they would have anticipated
- It will have come to an end much quicker.
Getting Clients can be expensive (advertising, PR etc) therefore a satisfied client who believes he has received great value, is much more likely to be a repeat client for other legal advice & services. If you ask the general public their view of the legal process, a typical response is “Expensive & Slow”. If we can speed up the process, make it more cost effective and client friendly, more people will use the service and be likely to use other services of the practice.
It doesn’t take a hotshot consultant to tell you that spending 50/60 hours on any job over two years and hoping to get paid for it at the end of that time makes no sense – not to mention the continuing hassle from impatient clients and the petty outlays – in time and money – that you never fully recover.
Compare this to spending 10/12 hours within a couple of months and getting paid for it immediately!
One of the great advantages we all have at the moment is that Mediation is still new and therefore it has no “traditional” ways of doing things. This is especially true in relation to getting paid. The Mediator will not sit down until the Agreement to Mediate has been signed by the parties and the mediation fee has been paid. This represents a perfect opportunity for the practitioner to seek his/her payment at the same time – this means fees are paid up to and including the mediation itself. If the mediation is not successful and the matter has to go on to litigation, or if there are further matters to be done as a result of the mediation then new appropriate arrangements are reached with the client – also, the client has a much clearer understanding of the difficulties and issues at this, much earlier, stage. Crazy cash-flow problems, financing of lengthy cases and exposure to bad debts are minimized
Mediation is new, and it will become a much larger part of the legal process, and as in all times of change there are always opportunities for progressive practice and business.
If you have a client or know someone who may benefit from the Mediation Services that we provide please contact, Mark Small on 087-2268394 to discuss your requirements or organize a mediation.
For more information on our mediation services CLICK HERE
Mediation Advocacy Training
Mediate Ireland provides training programs to anybody involved in the Mediation Process. One of our most popular programs is “An introduction to Mediation Advocacy”, which is specifically for professionals who represent their clients at a mediation. This is a afternoon program (6 CPD hrs are available) which runs regularly throughout the year.
For more information on our training programs CLICK HERE