As out of court dispute resolution professionals, our mandate is to inform and empower our clients so they can fully participate in mediation or collaborative practice and make wise, durable decisions. As mediation and collaborative practice become more mainstream, we are handling more high conflict, challenging personalities and intractable legal and financial issues. We are seeing some clients with low trust, less goodwill and less ability to accept reality checking or tolerate the needs of their spouse. In order to handle these complex files, we are working more often in teams of advocates and neutrals (whether in a mediation with lawyers present or in a team collaborative file). As a result, we are encountering the possibilities and the challenges of neutrality and advocacy. In this workshop, we explore:
- the importance of advocacy and neutrality and how we can capitalize on our strengths without stepping on one another’s toes;
- how advocates are necessary to maintain neutrality and how neutrals are essential to allow advocacy in our toughest cases
- the importance of clarifying mandates and expectations at the outset
- vexing questions such as: Should neutrals raise questions that may benefit one side? Can neutrals meet or take instructions from one side? What is the obligation of the neutral when the lawyers are imbalanced? What is the obligation of the lawyers when the neutral loses the perception of neutrality? What is the impact of trust?
- a practical tool for assessing and handling problems as they arise in a case
Through exploring the theoretical framework of advocacy and neutrality, the limitations of high needs clients in complex moments, our shared experience in recent cases, interactive case studies, and group discussion, we will leave this workshop better able to utilize the interplay of advocacy and neutrality in our settlement work.