Do I Need Legal Advice?

Do I Need Legal Advice?

One of the questions we often get asked at initial meetings is ‘do I need legal advice from a solicitor?’. You might feel confused about the difference between mediators and solicitors and what role they might each play in helping you. The answer to the question is always ‘it depends!’.

As mediators, we can provide detailed up-to-date legal, financial and other information to you in the course of the mediation process. However, because mediators are impartial, meaning we’re not on either side, we are working with both of you to try and help you make decisions, we’re unable to provide legal advice or provide you with recommendations about what course of action would best suit any individual. We will will explain the legal context and set out the general legal principles that apply to the issues you have raised which will help you to think through the options available to you. The information we will provide you with doesn’t take the place of legal advice but it can reduce how much you need.

For some people, legal information from a mediator is all they need and there is no need for them to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor. Others will find it helpful to have legal advice before, during and after mediation.  You might specific recommendations about what you should do or to what your individual best and worst case scenarios might be at court. In which case, you will need independent legal advice. If at any point we think it would be beneficial to take legal advice, we will let you know.  For example, legal advice may be helpful for:

  • Advising on any legal matter connected with your mediation discussions;
  • Advising on the proposal reached through mediation before you make a final decision because it is important that you understand all the options open to you before choosing one;
  • Ensuring any agreements reached are made legally binding.

 

Most of the time legal advice is taken between mediation sessions to help inform discussions. However, sometimes it can be helpful to bring your solicitors into the mediation sessions and they will attend to provide legal advice in real time during the meetings whilst the joint discussions are taking place. If we think this would be helpful in your case, we will discuss this with you.

You can get legal advice from a solicitor who will act for you alone but will also help you think about how decisions could affect other family members, especially any children involved. Below are two suggestions of organisations you might want to contact.  They will provide you with details of solicitors in your local area:

  1. Resolution’s 6,500 members are family lawyers committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. You can find details of local specialist family solicitors at http://www.resolution.org.uk
  2. The Family Law Panel is a national network of leading family law professionals dedicated to supporting families navigating the legal process. Find out about what they offer at https://thefamilylawpanel.org

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