What does a Mediation Attorney do?

N. Madison

A mediation attorney acts as a third party in a dispute, working with the parties involved to resolve their conflict. This is a different type of role for attorneys, as they are often involved in courtroom litigation and adversarial negotiations. Mediation, on the other hand, is a process used to help people resolve legal problems without having to go to court or participate in an adversarial process. In this role, an attorney doesn’t usually have the job of winning. Instead, he is charged with guiding the mediation process.

Mediation is offered to help many divorcing couples find a middle ground they can both agree with.
Mediation is offered to help many divorcing couples find a middle ground they can both agree with.

When called on to guide a mediation session, a mediation attorney typically starts out by explaining the process to the participants and helping them understand the benefits of mediation. He may also explain that the mediation session is confidential and let the participants know that he is not there to force a settlement. Often, a mediator will also establish the rules of the meditation session. For example, he may request that the parties avoid name calling and the use of abusive language.

During the mediation session, a mediation attorney usually works to organize and understand the facts of the case and pinpoint the main issues. This may help those involved to concentrate on these points rather than getting distracted by emotions and side issues. He will usually listen to both sides and help the parties work on coming to an agreement rather than focusing too much on things that occurred in the past. Often, part of his job is helping participants to see the facts clearly and return to the matter at hand when they get off track.

When the parties involved in mediation come to an agreement, a mediation attorney may work to ensure that both parties understand all of its terms. He may also work to clarify points and solidify any vague terms. He may then transfer the verbal agreement to a written document that the parties can sign. In some cases, mediation parties may choose to have their individual attorneys review the final agreement before they sign it.

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Mediation is a conflict resolution process that people typically enter into on a voluntary basis. The purpose of mediation typically is to help opposing parties reach a satisfactory resolution on their own instead of arguing their separate points in court. Many people find mediation less costly and are able to use the process to resolve their conflicts faster than they would in court.

While some people do enter the mediation process with a mediation attorney acting as a third party, they do not have to use an attorney to guide the process. Often, mediators are non-lawyers who have been trained to help others with this type of conflict resolution. In fact, a person may go through the entire mediation process, including finalizing and signing an agreement, without working or interacting with an attorney.

Discussion Comments


@Terrificli -- A lot of businesses have embraced the concept of mediation and that probably helps keep those mediation attorneys in business. Look at a contract these days and a mediation clause is standard. Courts tend to enforce those, too, claiming it is in the public's best interest to honor those clauses and direct people to attempt mediation before heading to court.


A lot of former judges wind up as mediation attorneys (I think they are more commonly called mediators, but you get the idea). That ought to tell you something. Mediation has been touted as a way to resolve disputes to everyone's advantage instead of having clear winners and losers like you do after a court trial.

The fact that a good number of former judges have embraced mediation should inspire people to look at that as a viable way to resolve disputes.

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