Book Review – Advising and Representing Clients at Mediation by Stephen Walker and David Smith (Wildy, 2013)

Every now and then a book is published for legal representatives that goes beyond a mere analysis of the law and technical guidance, and makes the reader stop and think. This is one such publication, that explains in a clear and easily understandable style difficult subjects such as how to prepare yourself and your client mentally and physically for a mediation, how you can form an effective team with your client, and prompts you to think about your role as a representative at a mediation.

Road tested checklists, diagrams and examples are used to illustrate concepts and analytical approaches that are often greatly needed, particularly when dispute and emotion can cloud logical thinking and reason. I would hasten any representative or party to address (honestly) the ‘Know Yourself Checklist’ before and during the mediation. As a result, you may see your case in a completely different way, and find the path to settlement smoother.

I wish I had read this book before I first represented clients as a solicitor at mediations. Now as a commercial mediator plenty in it resonates with my own experiences. It is packed with real life tips and examples. The “Common mistakes made by barristers and solicitors” accurately identifies pitfalls for even the best intentioned representative who, as we are reminded at various points, attends the mediation to make “peace, not war” – a different objective and mindset to the litigator in Court.

The book adopts a practical approach, and has been deservedly very well received. The authors, both esteemed Mediators and Solicitors, generously provide a series of invaluable tools hitherto generally unavailable in this area, such as FAQs for clients considering mediation, Preparation Guidance Notes, and Precedent Letters to deal with costs consequences of refusal to mediate.

This book will help a representative to get the very best out of the mediation process for their client. Accessible and understandable to the non-lawyer, it will benefit anyone contemplating mediation – indeed the representative who also buys a copy for their client will be doing everyone a favour.