The Law Society Gazette has just quite good article dealing with mediation which gives me a mention together with some of the leading players in the UK.
"Mediation is still in its relative infancy in the UK, despite alternative dispute resolution (ADR) being promulgated by the Woolf Reforms in 1999. More recently, however, there has been renewed emphasis on the method, largely in response to client demand, with the introduction by the Ministry of Justice of a National Mediation Helpline to increase awareness and access to mediation for the general public, and the creation of the Civil Mediation Council (CMC).
Last April the European Parliament approved a directive to encourage mediation for cross-border commercial disputes. In May, two of the country’s leading lawyers, Sir Anthony Clarke, Master of the Rolls, and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, both gave separate speeches calling for greater use of ADR and mediation in particular.
In 2007 there were 12,050 calls to the National Mediation Helpline, of which 1,632 were referred to mediation providers. Some 774 cases led to mediation, of which 510 successfully settled – a rate of 66%.
Ironically it could be the economy that provides the best marketing campaign. Cash is king during tough times and businesses will fight over smaller sums of money. Mediation is speedy and cost-effective.
‘I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone charging headlong into mediation alone,’ observes Justin Patten, solicitor and founding member of Human Law Mediation. ‘I still have my legal practice and I do training as well as mediating. The key is to have complementary skills and complementary forms of income. Any solicitor going into mediation should do so with their eyes open.’
But just how easy is it to combine a legal practice with a career as a mediator? ‘Very tricky,’ concludes Stephens. ‘You have to make a choice where you do your marketing, as there are only 24 hours in a day. But it is possible, particularly if you are in a specialist legal area, where it is desirable. As adjudicator you need current expertise and you need to be active in your field.’
Mediation training can benefit more than just mediators. Patten admits he is far better at handling client negotiation as a result of his mediation work. ‘You can focus far better on people’s motivation. In litigation, you focus just on your client’s interests, but you learn to look at the bigger picture. It makes you a better solicitor.’
One might think there is a conflict between being a lawyer, where the object is to generate fee income, and conducting mediation, where the goal is to seek early resolution and save costs. Not so, say lawyer-mediators.
McCarthy explains: ‘As a claimant lawyer running a business, you deal with cashflow and profit. Mediation means you get the cash in straight away, so insurers like it and it benefits your cashflow, while a trial can be costly for you as a lawyer and you are unlikely to be properly rewarded, which affects profit. So mediation makes sense.’"
1 The force is with ADR and mediation but for would be mediators be careful about entering the profession. It is very competitive and will get more so. Like any jurisdiction there are simply too many mediators going for too little work and as the article points out anyone can qualify as a mediator.
2 I think the key benefit o use of mediation is complementary skills. It does enhance comunication skills.
3 Recession times will lead more demand of mediation.