Traditional Mediation involves a single, attorney mediator, and each client is encouraged to consult privately with mediation-friendly attorneys, coaches and/or financial specialists, as needed. While all our experts are trained in mediation, our bias is that it is wisest if the primary mediator is always one of our attorneys, capable of ensuring that all of your documents and agreements are drafted and filed in accordance with state and federal laws governing a given area of practice. In other words, if you have only one mediator, we recommend that person be an attorney experienced in the relevant area of law.
Mediators are, by definition, neutral. They answer questions about the law, and draw up agreements in accordance with the law. As they remain neutral, all mediators allow clients to reach whatever agreement they wish, as long as it is legal, while working to ensure that participants all understand clearly the various ramifications of their choices and decisions. Given their neutrality, they can not advise about what might be best for any given client participant. A primary Mediator generally recommends that clients each seek private consultation from mediation-friendly, Consulting Attorneys.
Consulting Attorneys specifically trained in collaborative practice learn to be "mediation-friendly" when they consult with clients, rather than adversarial in their approach to your case. Attorneys who are “mediation-friendly” actively avoid creating unnecessary distress and tension — they avoid posturing about how they could "get you a better deal" by pursuing litigation, and avoid sabotaging your mediation. Instead, Consulting Attorneys empower clients: to negotiate for reasonable legal options, to consider carefully the legal pros and cons of different decisions, and to plan for and generate options that may be acceptable to other participating clients as well. Collaboratively-trained, consulting attorneys are able to focus on clients' overall well-being, without disrupting a mediation with adversarial positioning.
Consulting Attorneys are recommended for Traditional, Co-Mediation and Enhanced Mediation processes. The extent and timing of your use of a consulting attorney is your decision. For example, it may not be wise to wait until just prior to signing an agreement to consult with an attorney. At that point, your fellow aspirant and your primary mediating attorney have invested considerable time, effort and money in coming up with the agreement you have, as it is. Changing significant aspects of an agreement at the last minute risks creating unnecessary upsets, undermines trust in the process and may decrease the likelihood that other participants will remain open, rather than reluctant to persist in trying to reach a n agreement. On the other hand, you can save time and money in the long run by using your consulting attorney to consider the personal impact of certain legal decisions, to prepare documented facts for mediation meetings, to clarify your specific legal concerns, and to ponder, offer and come up with win-win options.
Some mediating clients also each hire Consulting Collaborative Coaches who are not in the room during the mediation. Consulting coaches are trained to enhance a client’s communication skills prior to mediation meetings, and to prepare clients for difficult but necessary conversations. Collaborative Coaches also model, role-play and help to prepare client for how to effectively: raise specific issues, anticipate and handle negative reactions, set limits, regulate emotions (so you can think clearly), and state concerns respectfully yet firmly, during the mediation. For example, Collaborative Coaches may help clients formulate and propose viable alternatives to what another participant is proposing, without being provocative and disrespectful, and without becoming upset in the face of any provocation, etc.
Similarly, some clients entering a mediation, each separately hire a Collaborative Consulting Financial Specialist who helps the participant understand related finances and the tax ramifications of various options to resolving the dispute. A consulting financial specialist may be especially helpful for less-financially savvy clients needing to map out a realistic economic picture of the matters at hand.