An Educated Mediation Participant Is an Effective Mediation Client

An Educated Mediation Participant Is an Effective Mediation Client By Sanford E. Balick, Esq.{3:06 minutes to read} New Yorkers are familiar with the famous Sy Sims clothing chain’s motto:  “An educated consumer is our best customer.” The wisdom of this phrase outlives the chain, which like so many others, succumbed to economic forces a few years ago.

The phrase comes to my mind frequently, in pre-mediation consults where I describe the mediation process and answer potential clients’ questions in regard to it. I take that opportunity to encourage both spouses to obtain the benefit of an independent legal consult. 

  1. Couples want to know why, if they are opting for the more economical mediation route, they need to consult with attorneys. It’s a very reasonable question, and the answer is not all that complicated:

  2. A pre-mediation consult enables you to obtain a candid assessment of the potential strengths and weaknesses of both your rights and potential financial exposures in divorce.

  3. You would also obtain some idea of the cost and time elements of proving a case should you opt, at some point, to pursue litigation.

  4. An attorney, with some familiarity with your individual situation is available to you if need additional legal advice.

It is important for an independent attorney to review the ultimate settlement agreement with your particular situation and concerns uppermost in mind, and an attorney who has provided prior consultation is well-positioned to comment on your final document.

A sense of these things will make each spouse a more informed and potentially more effective negotiator in mediation. The process is more focused and it’s even possible for the expected number of mediation sessions to be reduced as couples understand the futility of asserting weak claims and arguments. In short, the educated mediation participant is an effective mediation client.

Some are reluctant to consult with independent counsel out of a concern that the attorney will try and sell them on a litigated approach. It is helpful if, in seeking the consultation, you make your preference for mediation known. The attorney should both explain, in his/her view, why one approach might be preferable, but at the same time, respect your direction and assist you appropriately.

Not only is there no harm in inquiring what’s potentially involved in the litigation process especially if it helps one to obtain a firm grasp on the time and cost elements involved. It may help matters if the consulted attorney is herself/himself familiar with the mediation process.

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
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