Many mediators are presently looking at the implications of the proposed Legal Services Bill which will be published shortly.
It appears likely that the bill if subsequently enacted, will have substantial and dramatic consequences for the way lawyers do business in Ireland.
The question remains to be seen as to what impact, if any, the proposed legislation will have on the work of mediators, many of whom are also lawyers. The president of the Law Society of Ireland today outlined in an e-mail to practitioners the small level of consultation the Society have enjoyed with the Department of Justice in the lead up to the publication of the bill.
Many will argue that in the present recession Barristers are been treated unfairly, as they cannot solicit clients directly and are reliant for the greater part on Solicitors who pass on the work. As the recession deepened, less and less cases were been referred to counsel, who were in some cases seen by solicitors as an additional or surplus cost in cases. The mediation services bill will level the playing field somewhat and allow Barristers similar access to clients as solicitors.
By contrast, mediation has offered lawyers, both Barristers and Solicitors alike a chance to experience how the legal dispute resolution system may work going forward. Firstly costs in mediation are set against scales (usually time rated). Secondly, parity of billing. In cases of comediation both Solicitors and Barristers are paid the same fee.
In many ways, the legal system can learn from private client mediation practice as to how client billing will work going forward.