Monday, July 5, 2010

What's Special About Family Mediation?

The vast majority of instruction in law schools, and at professional legal-training courses (PLTC) delivered to students who have just completed law school, is focused on court hearings in which only one party "wins" and the other "loses". Trial decisions are analyzed and applied to fact patterns and statutory or common-law principles. Students compete in imaginary trials, or moots, with the goal of convincing the court, an impartial third party, that their client was right and the other party was wrong.

The predisposition to vigorous advocacy on a client's behalf is required by the ethical rules of most Law Societies. For example, British Columbia's Canons of Legal Ethics provide:

3. (5) A lawyer shall endeavour by all fair and honourable means to obtain for a client the benefit of any and every remedy and defence which is authorized by law.

Mediation culture is vastly different. The other party, not the judge, must be persuaded. Criticizing the opposition's behaviour, peppered with personal attacks or discourteous interactions, are counter-productive. There will be no ruling vindicating one party over the other. At best, there will be an enduring outcome that meets the goals and objectives of each party. These resolutions can and do include apologies and compensation. The key feature of mediated outcomes is that they are acts of self-determination by the disputants.
by Deborah Lynn Zutter

To read this article in its entirety, please click here.

For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at

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