Hello everyone, this week, we’ll be having a series on MEDIATION ADVOCACY AS A STREAM OF INCOME. This will be helpful for lawyers, law students, and ADR professionals.

Mediation Advocacy can be described as the skilled technique of presenting and arguing a client’s needs, positions and interests in a non-adversarial way through the use of mediation.

A mediation advocate, is usually a lawyer trained and accredited in the art of representing clients at mediation. It is a globally recognized skill and is fast gaining ground among alternative dispute resolution professions.

Now before we can talk of Mediation Advocacy as a stream of income, it is important, that we examine the realities we are faced with as it stands today and what can be perceived as impediments to the smooth administration of Justice.

For aspiring Mediation Advocates, note that before you can say you know what something is, it is best to also know what it is not as this would be a strong convincing point, to buttress why your clients should choose mediation over any other form of dispute resolution.

The first point for deliberation, as regards the need for mediation advocacy, is the delay in the court system or rather, the congestion, which is largely avoidable.

The reason for the congestion starting from the Supreme Court is not far-fetched. Going back in history to when the Supreme Court was set up by the Supreme Act of 1960, we had no Court of Appeal in Nigeria. Later on, we had the Western Nigeria Court of Appeal.

Thus the Supreme Court was directly fed by the High Courts and then we did not have up to 20 High Courts in the Federation. Today we have more than 30 High Courts in Lagos alone excluding other courts in Nigeria as a whole. That’s not even mentioning the Federal High Courts. There are sixteen divisions of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, Sokoto, Yola, Jos, Makurdi, Enugu, Calabar, Owerri, Port-Harcourt, Benin, Akure, Ilorin, Ekiti and Ibadan

Now imagine, all these courts deliver plenty of judgments and 90% of them go to the Supreme Court. It is evident that this single Supreme Court can no longer withstand the multitude of judgments that come for appeal. Another thing to note also, is that currently, only appeals filed before 2006 are being attended to and routinely given dates. Any appeal filed after that can only be heard by a special dispensation.

What does this mean for an average litigant? Simple, You cannot be certain that when an action is brought in court, it can be concluded within a year and this is not putting into consideration that the judgment may be appealed.

Against this backdrop, the pertinent question to be asked is, “How can Mediation Advocacy be a stream of income?

There are various ways to use Mediation Advocacy as a stream of income and they include:

  • You have to invest in training. You need to keep on learning because you can only give value if you are a person of value. Take advantage of local training opportunities to help improve your ADR skills.
  • Disseminate information on mediation advocacy to as many people as you can through every means of communication you have i.e. Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, talks etc. The presumption is that when you disseminate information on a topic, you are an expert in it.
  • Whenever clients approach you for any issue, suggest mediation as a form of resolving it using the realities stated earlier at the introduction, to further substantiate your point. You are not trying to force them but it is important for them to know what they are up against. You need to build a reputation of a lawyer that encourages mediation.

In charging for your services, we suggest that if you are a lawyer, you use your usual litigation or consultancy rate as a base figure for charging. You must take into account all or any of the following considerations in ascertaining the value of the service rendered:  

  1. The fee must be reasonable and commensurate with the services rendered;
  2. The time and effort required and spent;
  3. The novelty and difficulty of the matter;
  4. The importance of the matter to the client;
  5. Whether special skill or service has been required and provided;
  6. The amount involved or the value of the subject matter;
  7. The results obtained;
  8. The experience and the ability of the Mediation Advocate ;
  9. Make sure there is a valid enforceable WRITTEN agreement with the client about your professional fees.

To conclude, it cannot be overemphasized that, the marketplace is demanding services that can be offered by Mediation Advocates, and Law firms are beginning to embrace a new way of looking at conflict as well as their business model.

Adopting some of the recommendations highlighted above would help in generating a stream of income and turn Mediation Advocacy into Profit Centre in your firm’s structure.

By keying into Mediation Advocacy, everyone wins because the congestion in the courts will be greatly reduced, dispute resolution processes will become less cumbersome, clients will get speedy and amicable solutions to their disputes, Lawyers can get another stream of income and so much more benefits.

With this, we have come to the end of our series on MEDIATION ADVOCACY AS A STREAM OF INCOME. Kindly send in your questions or contributions in the comment section, we’d love to hear from you.