Do I Need a Lawyer for Mediation?

Do I Need a Lawyer for Mediation?

March 11th, 2019 by McNeely | Stephenson

Mediation is a way to resolve your differences with another party and avoid the high costs in time, energy, emotion and money that come with litigation. It involves a neutral third party who guides the parties to an agreement which ends the dispute. You don’t need a lawyer to be involved in mediation, but if your dispute involves your federal or Indiana legal rights, it’s best that you have one to help you.

A mediator is normally an attorney who does this full time or as part of his or her legal practice, as we do at McNeely Stephenson. Mediators can handle any kind of dispute, whether it’s related to divorce, child custody, disagreements between business owners or reaching a mutually agreeable settlement to a personal injury case. The two parties still need to negotiate a resolution, but a mediator can help the parties focus on addressing each other’s needs (instead of their positions) and may come up with creative solutions neither side thought about.

The mediator doesn’t represent either party. It’s not his or her job to make sure one side or another gets the best agreement possible, the mediator wants to reach a solution that all parties find agreeable.

You May Have a Lot at Stake

In order to justify the expense of a mediator, what’s at stake is normally something substantial, such as who has custody of a child or distribution of a large amount of money. Both sides need to know their legal rights and the strengths and weaknesses of their positions, as well as the monetary value of their case. Without the help of an attorney, someone going into a mediation session may agree to a resolution that’s much less than what they could have received with the aid of an attorney.

If you’re involved in a major dispute and are thinking about mediation, or the other side proposes it to you, you should consider the cost of retaining an attorney as an investment, in terms of both time and money. He or she may help you obtain more, or sacrifice less, than if you went alone.

Before it takes place, your attorney should lay out the groundwork for the mediation, what facts are important to your case, what facts may be unknown and need to be determined before serious negotiation can take place.

Negotiation and Mediation Go Hand in Hand

A big part of being a lawyer is negotiating. Though some of us may haggle when we buy things and a few of us may negotiate as part of our jobs, being able to competently and confidently negotiate the resolution of a serious dispute. Solving a dispute involving family issues, large amounts of money, highly charged emotions and complex legal issues is both a science (reading what’s being said by the other party, how it’s being said and body language) as well as an art (knowing what to say, when and how to move the case closer to a resolution or to come to a final agreement). Most of us lack the experience and skills to successfully negotiate an important dispute in our lives.

Whether you’re involved in a dispute and looking for legal help or want to learn more about mediation, McNeely Stephenson can provide you with mediation services or legal representation.  Contact us today to set up a consultation to learn more.