In spring 2014, we launch a one-year pilot to demonstrate that when family lawyers and family mediators work in tandem, the market for privately-funded family law services will grow.
The pilot will be made up of panels of participating law firms located in towns and cities across the UK. Each panel will consist of six law firms offering Lawyer-Supported Mediation on a cross-referral basis.
The aim: drive down the cost of full service dispute resolution so more private clients can afford it.
Lawyers joining the panel will already be mindful of a gap in the provision of family law services. Average salary private clients cannot readily afford a lawyer to either negotiate on their behalf or pursue Collaborative Law.
And we don’t believe the burgeoning number of “fixed fee packages” will reverse this trend. Does fixing a fee for a divorce petition, filling out Form E or drafting a consent order really meet client demand for a lawyer to help them resolve contested issues?
This is why the one-year pilot will combine the complementary expertise of lawyer and mediator. Clients seek out lawyers for advice and security. This is an essential component of Lawyer-Supported Mediation and why our service starts and ends with lawyer. By the same token, publicly available data shows that when clients are willing to begin mediation, there’s an excellent prospect for reaching agreement.
Which is why lawyers joining the pilot will want to test new ways of incubating and encouraging clients explore mediation. This is the polar opposite of the Ministry of Justice’s forthcoming requirement that an Applicant meet a mediator en route to court.
If you have an appetite for innovation, we want to hear from you. Above all, we want to attract family lawyers that see profit in commercialising informed dialogue so full service dispute resolution is finally within reach of average income private clients.