The honest answer to whether you need a lawyer for mediation is simply, “No.”
But the better question to ask yourself is, “Should I have a lawyer help me with mediation?” By asking this question, you provide yourself with more information so you can make an informed choice.
The Benefits to Hiring a Lawyer for Mediation
Mediation is a collaborative effort that, in its most basic form, involves two disputing parties and a mediator. The goal in the room is for the parties to find middle ground and come to an agreement, thereby avoiding the time and money costs associated with court. The mediator acts as neutral party. His or her goal is to facilitate discussions and document the agreement, not to provide advice or counsel.
This is where having an attorney by your side during your mediation session can become quite valuable. Your attorney can advise you as to the consequences of each choice put before you. Your attorney can also identify missing elements to your agreement that a mediator would perhaps not notice.
Additionally, your attorney can prep you in advance of your mediation session. The two of you can talk through your concerns, your wishes and your baseline goals for mediation. You can create a plan up front that will help ensure you cover everything that matters to you.
A mediation lawyer is also an invaluable resource in the event that your mediation session does not go as planned. If there is a chance that the other party in your situation will refuse to move toward common ground on some or all open issues, you will want a lawyer there to support you and to try to help bring your mediation to a successful conclusion.
Another Option Available to You
If you are concerned about costs, or if you believe that you and the other party can work together amicably, you could consider scheduling a single mediation preparation session with an attorney. During that session, the attorney will walk you through what you can expect from mediation, how to prepare in advance, and what potential consequences you face.
A Mediation Lawyer Is Not Expensive
One of the greatest benefits of choosing personal injury or family law mediation to resolve your dispute is that it is much less expensive than the traditional court process. This means you can hire a lawyer to provide you with information and peace of mind without the worries of going deep into debt due to your legal matter.
If you are facing an upcoming mediation session, or if you are considering mediation, reach out to a lawyer experienced in the mediation process to get an understanding of the process, costs and potential outcomes. You have little to lose, but potentially much to gain.