One of the recurring themes in mediation is, whether lawyers should attend or not attend the medition. More generelly speaking: what role do lawyers have to play in mediation? One often hears that that when one or both sides bring their lawyer to the mediation, the mediation is slowed down, becomes more contentious and adversarial, and more likely to fail compared to a situation where they parties worked solely with a mediator.The Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School reports today that new research by professors Jean Poitras of HEC Montréal; Arnaud Stimec of the Université de Nantes and Jean Francois Roberge of the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada shows that this is not the case. Here is PON’s summary of their findings:
“Mediations conducted with attorneys present were just as likely to be settled as were those without attorneys present. More good news: the presence of attorneys didn’t significantly slow down the mediation process, affect how fair parties viewed the process to be, or alter how satisfied they were with the agreement.
A couple of difference did emerge. First, when attorneys were present, parties viewed their mediators to be somewhat less useful. Second, parties were less likely to reconcile with each other when attorneys were present. Overall, though, the study finds some evidence that lawyers, contrary to their reputation, do not obstruct agreement in mediation.”
See, I told you so. Lawyers aren’t that bad after all.