Comments: From Gladiator To Mediator: The Challenges For Lawyers Who Become Mediators

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Cheryl Simes, Hamilton, New Zealand     03/21/12
Role of lawyers
Isn't it a false dichotomy? Lawyers need skills in communication, active listening, interest-based negotiation, etc - in order to do their job as fact gatherers, advisers, and negotiators. Today's clients usually want to resolve a dispute, not to make case law. If lawyers confine themselves to their traditional roles and skills of courtroom advocacy and positional bargaining, they are unnecessarily narrowing their roles. It's a bit like saying lawyers have to be male. I know it was traditional, but haven't we moved beyond traditional constraints? (In New Zealand, mediation, conciliation and arbitration are all 'legal work'. Anyone can lawfully provide those services, just as anyone can provide legal advice (except in one narrow area). But if a lawyer or a lawyer's employee does so, the full protection of the lawyers' disciplinary and ethical regime applies.)

Santokh Kalkat, El Paso TX     04/29/10
Good Points to know for Non-lawyer Mediators.
This article gave me an encouragement after it enlightened me the positive points being non-lawyer mediator.Thanks for information about Lok Adalat in India. Once again. excellent article.

Rachel Greeen, Brooklyn NY     04/22/10
Great article
Wonderful summary of all of the challenges faced by attorneys who attempt to become mediators. Over the years, I have experienced attorneys who suffer from each of these. You identified and described each of these challenges so clearly - as well as analyzing the factors in attorney-role to help generate understanding as to why the shift to mediator is so challenging for attorneys. Thanks for writing.

Roy , Central District HK     04/20/10
Choosing mediator
Kate is right. For the best interest of the disputants, we should select the mediator who possess those skills which are most appropriate for the case. Whether we need a mediator specialized in people's skill, substance knowledge, process management, legal issues or others. Confucius said: "The wise are not confused, the humane are not anxious, the brave are not afraid." A mediation trained lawyer should not worry to appoint a non-lawyer mediator. One time, a senior medical doctor commented that he will only trust a medical doctor mediator to conduct mediation meeting. The response is, "if your house got fire, would you only ask for a medical background fireman for help?

Kate , Newport Beach CA     04/19/10
Non-lawyer mediators
Thank you for this very thoughtful post. As you point out, the skills of a mediator are quite different from those of a litigator, and this makes me question why so many attorneys insist on working only with mediators who are retired judges or former attorneys who have practiced for at least 25 years. Would we not be better served by choosing to work with mediators whose strengths and negotiating styles are complementary to (and not the same) as those of the attorneys?