FAQ: Legal Advice

I’d like to mediate, but I really want to have a lawyer, too.

Great!  I’d like you to have a lawyer, too.  There’s no better way for you to be informed of your legal rights and obligations, to get advice on your options, gain a clear understanding of what’s going to happen if you don’t reach an agreement, to have someone to make sure your rights are protected, and to have someone supportive on your side.

If you don’t have a lawyer yet, I can connect  you with some who will respect your choices about how you want to handle your situation.  Someone who won’t turn it into a lawsuit just because that’s the only thing they know how to do.

Someone who will respect your budget, too.  Together we’ll figure out how best to use their time and your money, so you can get the legal advice and recommendations you need when you need it.

I’m interested in mediation, but I want to hire my lawyer first.  Can I mediate after that?

You certainly can.  But beware that you may choose a lawyer who is distrustful of mediation.  They may discourage you from trying it or even be very dismissive of it.  Some lawyers see it as a way to reduce the legal fees they would otherwise charge you.

The lawyers I’ll connect you with realize they can’t expect to make the same big fees working for you if you choose to mediate.  But they understand that you’re more likely to be satisfied by the outcome if you do, to be happy with the service they provide you, and to refer them to other people you know.  So these lawyers know that by respecting your decision to mediate, they’ll serve more clients, and happier, more satisfied clients.

They’ve already hired a lawyer.  Can we still mediate?

Sure.  There is still the question of whether they want to mediate.  Many lawyers don’t want to mediate before they’ve spent a lot of their time and your money on the case.  But because most cases are settled with a mediator, they are very likely to agree to mediation at some point.  Whether they’ve hired a lawyer or not, the question is the same: when will they be willing to mediate?  I can help you work with them on that.

Why do I have to hire both a lawyer and a mediator?  You’re a lawyer — why can’t you advise me?

I am a lawyer.  I do understand the law, the legal process and the litigation that is your alternative to working things out yourselves.  But the Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit me from advising you on your legal rights while I’m mediating.  So I cannot ethically advise you, but more to the point, that’s to your advantage.

Your lawyer is just that — your lawyer.  Your lawyer has a duty of loyalty to you and, in this dispute, to you alone.  Your lawyer is your loyal advisor and ally.

I’m not just your mediator, I’m the other person’s mediator, too.  I can’t have a loyalty to you over the other person.  And that’s your advantage:  I work with both of you and for both of you.

Like a judge, the law calls me a neutral.  And like a judge managing the litigation, I manage the mediation.  But unlike a judge, who is there for the state’s benefit – and to decide your case for you – I’m here for your benefit.  My job’s to help you all reach the agreement that is your best solution.

And I can do something no lawyer can do.  I will most likely be meeting with just you and your lawyer confidentially.  I’ll help you craft your communications and offers.  But I’m also meeting with the other person and their lawyer confidentially. I keep all confidences, but you have the advantage of my having been in the other room.  That’s the power of intermediation only a mediator can provide.

So your lawyer and I have different jobs.  And that specialization is to your benefit: your lawyer protects and advises you on your legal rights, and I manage the mediation process.  We each get to focus on what we do best, and you benefit from the efficiency of it.

Won’t it be more expensive to have to hire both a lawyer and mediator?

More expensive than what?  Than litigation?  Remember that hiring your lawyer is not your only litigation expense.  There are a whole lot of other people you will pay:  paralegals, court reporters, messengers, expert witnesses, consulting experts, court filing fees, arbitrators, photocopiers, document processors, travel, special masters, etc.

And here’s the kicker.  Lawyers don’t settle all lawsuits in direct negotiations.  They hire a mediator, usually late in the litigation.

So in litigation, after all the discovery and the depositions and motions, and having racked-up all the pretrial legal fees, your lawyer is likely to hire a mediator to help settle the case just before trial.  After all that, you wind up paying for both your lawyer and the mediator anyway.

I don’t expect you to pay me in mediation fees what I hope you can save in litigation expenses.  I can’t promise how much you will spend in mediation anymore than a lawyer can promise you how much you’ll pay in litigation.  And there’s no way to compare the two anyway.  But it is my sincere wish for you that in mediation you will altogether pay me and your lawyer less than you would pay just your lawyer to litigate.

I’m a mediator because I think it is less costly for people to pay me to help them come to their agreements without litigation than to pay me to litigate their cases for them.  If I thought otherwise I’d still be litigating cases.