Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Make More $$ As An Attorney In A Disputed Case Than I Do As A Mediator.

So why do I advocate for mediation? Because I believe it is in the best interests of almost all parties and it is in the best interests of our society to not fight when there is a better alternative. And there is a better alternative: Mediation.

As a mediator, I will get paid for a half or full day's work in a civil case or several half days in a family law case.

As a mediator in a civil dispute (i.e., non-criminal and non-family law), there is generally one full session and, sometimes, a second session if the parties request it. That's a maximum of two full days of work, or 16 hours of my time for which I get compensated in a civil case.

As a mediator in a family matter, there are typically at least two half-day sessions, and sometimes four or more half-day sessions in total. Again, that's a maximum of 16 hours of my time for which I get compensated as a mediator. (There are other scenarios, in which I draft the paperwork or spend additional time to help finalize the matter, for which I will also be compensated.)

As an attorney, I charge the same hourly rate but I spend much, much more time in a disputed case that includes written interrogatories, oral depositions, written motions and court hearings, status conferences, settlement conferences and trials.

As an attorney in two recent employment cases that settled through mediation, I spent over 100 hours just in the beginning stages of each case. As an attorney in an employment case that went to trial, my time was far more because of the workup required to prepare the case for trial in addition to all the pre-trial discovery typical in most disputed cases.

The same is true for family or domestic disputes. As an attorney in a disputed family case, I will spend a minimum of ten hours in a typical disputed case and much less if the other party is open to informal settlement discussions and/or getting the case into mediation early. If the parties had come to me in the first place to mediate the case, instead of them paying for a minimum of 20 hours (between both parties' lawyers) plus court costs, they could have paid me as a mediator to resolve the matter in much less time and with a far more satisfactory result for all involved.

It is this satisfaction with the results that were created by the parties themselves, working together instead of against each other, for a peaceful result, that makes me advocate for mediation as the best method of resolving disputes despite the fact that I make less money when the parties work together.

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