Why All Lawyers Need Mediation Training
Increasingly the Courts are insisting that those involved in business disputes consider mediation before they embark on a Court case. But for some lawyers this might be a step in the dark. That’s where a basic training course in mediation can come into its own.
Knowledge is Power
Mediation is starting to have a significant impact on the legal process. It is increasingly taking place within commercial and civil litigation and is set to take off for employment disputes as the dismissal laws are set to change within the next year.
A basic understanding of the mediation process, its benefits and pitfalls will put lawyers ahead of the game and enable them to advise clients on the right time to use mediation, as well as satisfy judges, that mediation has been adequately considered.
Realising that cases that go to mediation settle in around 80% of cases adds weight to an argument that says all lawyers should give full consideration to mediation on each and every case.
Skills for Life
Mediation skills have universal benefit. A good mediator listens well; interprets complex information, taking account of all sides in an argument; keeps their cool and uses their negotiation skills to draw things to an amicable conclusion. Mediation training can equip a lawyer with a range of skills and knowledge they can apply in their day to day working lives and even in their homes.
Training for the Future
Mediation training, designed specifically for lawyers, will enhance your capacity to reach a negotiated settlement. One of the aspects of doing mediation and mediation training is that it forces you to explore creative and sometimes what appear contradictory solutions.
This enhances your skill as a negotiator and makes you more creative.
By way of example, recently I negotiated an employment dispute of behalf a dismissed employee that required the agreement of an independent 3rd company.
Mediation skills were used to reach an agreement which all the parties namely my client, the company and the opposing side could live with. In this case traditional dispute resolution techniques could have made for protracted arguments and potentially a costly Court case.
A mediator is trained to think outside the box and focus on intangibles as means of reaching settlement.
One of the aspects of mediating disputes is that it enables you to see that often there is more to a dispute than what is on the legal papers. When you mediate or experience the training you are trained to focus on the motivation of the parties which often do not relate to what is said in the witness statements of a dispute. This gives you a far greater sense of what disputes are really about. As a consequence it gives you an added armoury for helping to reach a settlement and you can see more than perhaps a lawyer who has not had mediation training.
Mediation training also enables you to help create more value in negotiated settlements. As a lawyer who’s been through mediation training, one of the main benefits I have experienced is that I now try to create additional value within negotiations. For example, if I negotiate on a straightforward matter like in the purchase of a car - the payment terms, cash upfront, loan agreement, warranty could all be negotiable issues. Breaking down the negotiation into bite sized chunks, understanding where the value is for yourself and the other parties helps you achieve a better deal for your client or in your life. For lawyers unbundling negotiations into several issues is not intuitive because we have a tendency to simplify solutions into single issues.
In my view every lawyer operating today can benefit from a basic introduction to mediation and more detailed mediation skills training. It’s great professional development, can be very personally fulfilling – and it means a better service to clients. Everyone wins.
Read more on Mediation Skills for Lawyers on the Human Law website.