In most mediated settlements, it is in each party's interest to seek independent legal counsel. The role of the attorney will be generally limited to providing legal advice, reviewing the agreements of the parties, and preparing any documents to be filed with a court.
While many accredited mediators are attorneys, many are not. The role of the mediator and an attorney are very different. The mediator functions as a neutral that facilitates an agreement between the parties. By law in New Jersey, an attorney may represent only one party to a dispute.
The training to become an attorney and a mediator are very different. Mediators are professionals trained to act as neutrals and help the parties reach agreements themselves. In selecting a mediator it is important that the mediator have the necessary training and experience in mediation.
The time varies widely by the type of matter being mediated and other factors. A divorce mediation could take from eight to fifteen or more hours depending on the commitment of the divorcing couple to the process and the complexity of the parenting and financial issues.
Yes. Mediators are trained to focus the parties on solutions for the future rather than past events. As long as the parties put aside their anger during mediation sessions and agree that a solution that they reach voluntarily is better than an adversarial process where a third party will decide, then mediation can be successful.