Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Case Digests / Committee on Professional Ethics — Lawyers as Mediators: Opinion 878

Committee on Professional Ethics — Lawyers as Mediators: Opinion 878

NYSBA Committee on Professional Ethics

Lawyers as Mediators

Opinion 878

Background/Question: When a lawyer serves as a volunteer mediator under the auspices of a community mediation service, is the lawyer permitted or required to reveal his or her status as a lawyer to the parties in mediation?

Opinion: When a lawyer serves as a mediator, under some circumstances the lawyer must reveal his or her status as a lawyer and explain the importance of that status to the participants in the mediation. The committee found that mediators working in certain programs of community dispute resolution are expected to take ethical guidance from the New York State Community Dispute Resolution Center Mediators. The CDRCM concluded that the disclosure of a mediator’s status as a lawyer is not required, and may even be discouraged. However, the rules of professional conduct require that a lawyer serving as a “third-party neutral” shall inform unrepresented parties that the lawyer is not representing their interests. Unless the parties are represented by counsel, the lawyer-mediator should explain “whatever needs to be explained” so there is no confusion about the lawyer-mediator’s role.