Mediators and lawyers both work to resolve conflicts between individuals or entities. However, there is a distinction between the two different professions. Many mediators often start as lawyers because understanding the court process and various resolution strategies as an attorney often come in handy as a mediator. Most attorneys understand how to analyze the law and assess different life situations in an attempt to find a resolution.
Depending on an attorney’s law background and court experience, most attorneys generally have some knowledge that would allow them to mediate different types of conflicts. Lawyers experienced in family law possess the best backgrounds to enter into family law mediation. Similarly, an attorney that knows corporate structure well and represents businesses often in court could utilize his or her experience to mediate corporate disputes.
While having a background as an attorney can make it easier for somebody to be a mediator, it isn’t necessary to become a lawyer first. Mediators do not need to be lawyers, but they do need to have a solid understanding of both law and conflict resolution. In some cases, people that previously weren’t lawyers still become successful mediators. For instance, some successful business owners have attained positions as business mediators because they already understand corporate law and conflict resolution.
While a solid background often helps many mediators, all mediators must educate themselves and learn how to resolve arguments. Many mediators also receive higher-level training in specialized law areas like family law or corporate law.
How Mediators and Attorneys Resolve Disputes
Both mediators and attorneys work to resolve conflicts. However, the two professions are different when comparing how attorneys resolve disputes versus how mediators resolve disputes. Attorneys proactively work for one side of the conflict and against the other party. On the other hand, mediators try to promote compromise between the two conflicting parties without advocating for either party. A mediator remains objective while resolving disputes and attempts to guide people through finding a legal agreement to resolve the conflict.
Successful mediators can approach conflict from both sides and try to guide the conflicting parties to a compromise that’s sealed with a legal agreement. Mediators do not take personal stances against either party, but instead, encourage each party to work with the others involved in a settlement.
Some attorneys are trying to transition into mediation struggle with staying in the middle. Since lawyers typically advocate for one party only, approaching compromise does not always seem natural for all attorneys trying to become mediators. There are still those attorneys that do find they can play mediator and then attorney quickly. However, swapping roles isn’t easy for everybody, and typically people either work as mediators or work as attorneys.
Family Law Mediators
The most popular form of employment for a mediator falls into the realm of family law and divorces. Many mediators work with divorcing couples to facilitate an agreement. When mediators work in family law, they are not allowed to give either party legal advice. Mediators can describe laws like those that affect child custody and child support expectations in a particular state. However, they cannot advise one party or the other about their best position.
While family law mediators cannot give specific parties advice on how to approach something like a regular attorney could, they can make helpful suggestions. For instance, they are allowed to tell either party at what point they should seek out an independent attorney for more advice. Once an independent attorney acts for one side or the other, that independent attorney works as the advocate for that person and can provide legal advice and guidance.
When to Use Mediation
When people or entities decide to use mediation, they do not necessarily need to be on the best of terms. It may seem like it will be difficult to compromise on some things, but that doesn’t mean a mediator can’t help. When both parties are willing to work together to resolve, even if they don’t seem to agree on anything, they should try mediation. If it appears that both parties demonstrate effort and intent, then a mediator can help amp up the communication so that a compromise occurs.
When people are willing to work together and need assistance with the communication process, a mediator becomes the best option. Mediation focuses on compromising and keeping discussions progressive between two parties. People that are willing to give a little to get a few in return are ripe for mediation. However, if you do need to resolve a dispute using a mediator, remember you might not get all that you want. The good news is that a mediator will help you attain some of the things that might be important to you. That way, you’ll be able to resolve your dispute with success legally.