Mediation do I need a lawyer, and do lawyers attend mediation?
Yes and no, firstly to deal with do you need a lawyer for a mediation, I always tell parties to get legal advice, if they haven’t already done so, being independent as mediators we cannot give legal advice, which can be difficult when a party doesn’t know their legal position and as a mediator the law / parties legal position is clear to us.
This can make the whole mediation that little bit more difficult, as you want to guide the party in dispute, give them the correct picture so that they can make correct decisions upon correct information, not what they may think the law is, without advising them.
As a mediator we already walk a tightrope of remaining independent and keeping confidentiality, whereby there is a very thin line between guiding and advising, which we are unable to do.
Therefore it is always sensible to know what your legal position is and the strengths and weaknesses of your case, whereby you can then negotiate and know what are your parameters are within the law, realistically getting what you think you should.
Essentially, no you do not need a lawyer, the same way as you do not need to have a sat navigation system in your car, as you can surely reach your destination, by getting lost, making a few wrong turns and stopping and asking locals for correct directions, however why take that risk / go through that hassle?
Without taking a lawyer’s advice you would be negotiating in the dark and that really would not be the right way to go, so the only advice I would be willing to give as a mediator is, if you are attending a mediation, then always get advice from a lawyer.
Secondly do lawyers attend mediation, yes and no, my preference as a mediator is for a lawyer to attend mediations alongside their clients. Some clients will have their lawyers on standby over the telephone to save on attendance costs; however an ideal mediation is where all parties have their lawyers in attendance.
Needless to say, again this is not essential, you do not need to have sought legal advice, nor have a lawyer to attend mediation, but again the health warning would be, this is at your own risk.
It is important to note that you really only need a lawyer to attend a mediation for a commercial mediation, employment and some family disputes, not for a workplace mediation matter, however if you are unsure about your legal position, options then regardless of what type of mediation services you are engaging, it would be very wise to get legal advice.