Tips for Working with Lawyers in Mediation
- Appreciate and support the importance of the lawyers protecting their clients. The way mediators see lawyers is often a self fulfilling prophecy. Instead of seeing the lawyers as a problem to begrudgingly deal with or work around, view the lawyers as an important part of the team.
- Don’t try to convince a lawyer he or she is wrong. Try to understand why they think they are right. Listening by the mediator is far more effective as lawyers are more likely to listen when they feel listened to first. And the mediator’s own understanding of the problem may change from listening to the lawyer rather than challenging him or her.
- See lawyers as people too. While they are participating in a professional capacity, lawyers have feelings and aspirations that impact them, their clients and the process.
- Don’t fight lawyer aggression with aggression. It almost always leads to further aggression.
- View lawyers as a great resource for problem solving and creativity.
- Create the opportunity for a conversation about the law which is separate from the conversation about what is important to the parties. Respect the parties’ and the lawyers’ decisions about how important they want to make the law and watch out for our own tendency to direct people based on how important we think the law should be in the solution.