Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blame the lawyers (again)

This article in The Independent today reports more government anti-lawyer propaganda, suggesting that legal aid divorce lawyers purposely keep quiet about mediation, as they will get paid more if the matter goes to court. No doubt the public will swallow it as usual, although they will be the first to complain when they can't find a legal aid solicitor in their area.

The article barely mentions the fact that before any legal aid certificate is granted the suitability of the matter for mediation has to be considered by a mediation agency (not the lawyers), and no mention is given to the fact that mediation is purely voluntary and most people simply do not want it. It is true that public money could probably be saved if more cases went to mediation, and I'm sure there are some lawyers who 'keep quiet', but to blame lawyers solely for the extra expense is nonsense.

Having seen the light some years ago, I don't do legal aid work, but I do suggest mediation to my clients, where appropriate. The vast majority of them do not want to go to mediation, and many of those that do fail to reach a settlement, some reporting unfavourably about the whole process. So in any event, mediation is not the panacea many would have you believe.

4 comments:

  1. I am afraid that the anti-lawyer sentiment is largely a reflection of the entire Family Division as a whole. Most of the professionals who work in the system are never approached by the public because they are in a sense, unreachable (i.e. judges, councils etc) and the easiest way to attack an imploding system is to find the most tangible part of that system.

    That is perhaps why lawyers get a raw deal because they are the first port of call for divorcing parties and they are able to communicate with their lawyers, as professionals who are part of the system, so the couples feel as if they are reaching out.

    On the other hand, it is also fair to say that lawyers have by and large forgotten to uphold their duty to the courts and the notion of justice, before lining their own pockets, and I note that you say you have 'seen the light' about legal aid work. Now, is that a reflection of you letting the system down or has the system let you down? Either way, the divorce process is not satisfactory and working conditions for laywers are just as bad as the conditions people face when they process their divorce through the system.


    If you would like to see how the system really affects people, log on to a new site that has just launched called http://www.sobek.blogspot.com.

    This is a behind the scenes look at just how much of a mess the divorce courts are in and why it is perhaps, that laywers feel they have nothing left to do but behave like buzzards around the rotting cadavres that belong to the Family Division and the vulnerable divorcing parties.

    Sobek.

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  2. Hi John,

    I was going to do this post but you have covered what I was going to say very nicely!

    Given that most mediators are solicitors accusing solicitors of lining their pockets by non referral is a bit off track. I plan to train to be a mediator later this year. It takes 8 days as opposed to 6 years to qualify as a lawyer!!!!

    I mention mediation to all my clients and I currently have 2 on going complaints against mediators - so it is not the quick fix it is made out to be. It is only cheap if you qualify for legal aid. Good mediators charge £200 plus VAT per hour and 3 hours can fly by when you are having a debate about everything! Plus it is important to obtain legal advice throughout the process!!!

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  3. Hi Lynne,

    Interesting that your experience of mediation is similar to mine. Good point about the cost as well - too many people seem to think that mediation is a cheap universal answer, but it is not.

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  4. Excellent post, I found it very informative, keep up the hard work. Divorce Lawyer Consultation

    ReplyDelete

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