As our practice develops, more of it seems devoted to lawyer-attended mediations, arbitrations and hybrids. When clients come to us with their counsel it is most often after the parties have experienced some litigation, and its attendant costs, delays and confrontations. They are either in the phase where the case has been pre-tried by the court and sits in the long queue for trial; or before the pre-trial conference itself. Occasionally, the case is in an earlier stage.
Why would litigation attorneys encourage or participate in mediation at any of these stages of litigation? It might seem to run counter to their own economic interest, and it involves relaxing some measure of control, something lawyers are loath to do. One reason is that some clients insist upon it, having heard from others that it may be an effective way of shortening what feels like an interminable process. Another is the wear and tear that increasing costs and the lack of any assured containment within the public court process imposes on lawyers and clients alike.
But, we find that the most common reason is that every week, more lawyers are realizing that it works! The lawyers themselves realize that they do retain a good measure of influence in this process. They see and experience that the mediation is fairly run; that everyone has their “say”; and, that in the end, no one is forced to do anything. Counsel also realizes that it is better to be paid fully for a process that bring early closure, than to run up an often uncollectible bill from a client after a long trial. Clients in the end are happier, and thus, more inclined to refer new clients to the mediation-friendly lawyer.
Mediators who do not welcome litigation counsel are cutting off a valuable source of business. Lawyers who refuse to mediate are short-selling their clients. The meeting of the two is good for all, especially the clients.