Professionalism and Ethics in Family Law: The Other 90%
Journal of Arbitration and Mediation, Vol. 6(1), 2016
52 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2016
When family lawyers and lawyer-mediators are working towards settlement, ethical quandaries present themselves on a daily basis. What process should a client use? What information should be disclosed to the other side? What types of conversations should a lawyer have with their client? Imbedded in each decision the professional makes are ethical elements. Innovation in alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) processes have created new environments for lawyers to navigate and to adapt to in their individual understanding of practicing well. As a result, many family lawyers are working in the shadows of litigation, or separate from it entirely as in the field of collaborative family law. ADR processes are often unregulated and fall outside of the scope of procedural rules. The goal of the research presented in this paper is to look at the following three sources that serve as guidance for family law lawyers and mediators when dealing with ethical challenges in ADR: existing academic research, mandatory codes of conduct and voluntary professional standards, and ethics in practice through empirical research. This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion about ethics and professionalism in innovative processes, and in particular what it means to behave ethically in family law ADR, by presenting empirical research gathered through round-table discussions with mediators, collaborative lawyers, and settlement-focused negotiators.
Keywords: Family Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Legal Ethics, Collaborative Law, Mediation, Negotiation
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