Italian lawyers are apparently striking in protest at a law encouraging mediation. Thankfully, here in Scotland, many lawyers are making good use of mediation.
As Core this month undertakes its 500th day of mediation, our statistics show that nearly 150 law firms have been involved in mediations using Core's services in recent years. Many have been involved on several occasions, some over 40 times. (In a recent survey of dispute resolution solicitors in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, nearly half of those listed included mediation as a speciality.) This signals a sea-change in dispute resolution in the past decade - and in the development of problem-solving skills by lawyers who see mediation as a way to help clients to solve problems more quickly and effectively.
As one client said recently: "I just wanted to thank you again for your help and guidance to the conclusion of our thorny dispute. It was a fascinating day, very professionally managed.... My only regret was not to have gone down that road many legal hours earlier. Still, I am richer for the experience." Clients recognise the benefits and thoughtful, forward-looking lawyers know that mediation helps them to serve their clients interests well.
How often do we hear the remark: "I wish we'd had this discussion two years ago?" As mediators, we hear it a lot. Whether in medical claims, share purchase warranty actions, senior management fallouts, environmental conflicts, professional services complaints or sub-contractor disputes, communication breakdown is often the cause. That's why early intervention with a mediator, even at the deal-building stage, to nip things in the bud, or to establish protocols for future working, makes sense. And it certainly makes sense at the stage of seeking to resolve disputes which have arisen. There will always be resistance from those who fear change. But the future lies with those who will grasp modern ways to address age-old problems!