“When you see a good move, wait; look for a better one.” – Emanuel Lasker
When you think about mediation, picture a chess game. The basic object of the game is for the player to make all of the right moves in order to protect his or her King, while at the same time also trying to take down the other side’s King. In order to do this, the player must move their pieces accordingly without putting their King at risk. Pawns may be sacrificed, but the player ideally still has the important pieces left on the board to play and ultimately have their King still standing at the end of the game. As it relates to mediation in your divorce case, you are the King, the Pawns are issues or items that are compromised in order to save the King and the more important chess pieces or issues, and you or your lawyer is the one playing the game.
Do you need a lawyer in your mediation process? The factual answer is no. The pragmatic answer is absolutely. A lawyer is not technically required in order to participate in the process of mediation. However, it is in your best interest to retain a lawyer to “play the game” on your behalf and help you achieve the best result possible.
Lawyers fulfill numerous valuable roles in this process. During mediation, the attorney does not speak for their client as they might in a courtroom. Instead, the attorney is there to offer guidance and information, while also setting the tone for your benefit. They are there to support their client and ensure that they understand the risks, benefits and circumstances that surround the negotiations. The attorney also helps to manage the opportunity for breaks and private meetings with the mediator, while also creating an at-ease environment for their client. They are advocates and advisors for open-minded, constructive dispute resolutions.
The decision to include a lawyer in the mediation process is yours to make. However, it is important to remember that retaining an attorney only benefits you in the long run. Having an attorney at mediation allows for you to have a support system, an advocate, and someone who is experienced in the “game” with you every step of the way. If you truly want to maximize your ability to resolve your case at mediation on the best terms possible, then having an attorney with you is essential. Checkmate.