Jacksonville Bar Association Offers Pro Bono Mediation to Low-Income Individuals
Tuesday, December, 3, 2013
Mediation is often thought of as the province of the wealthy as it requires a considerable resource investment to set up and implement, not the least of which is locating and hiring a suitably qualified mediator. However, mediation is recognized as a solution to many disputes that saves money and time, making it ideal for the resolution of disputes between low-income parties, making it, ironically, the ideal solution if not for the cost of the mediator themselves. The Jacksonville Bar Association of Jacksonville Florida has established a pro-bono Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) section which works with the local Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) to provide mediation services to those who could not otherwise afford them.
The JALA handles referrals, putting appropriate candidates for mediation in touch with the ADR Section of the Bar Association. This separation has proven crucial, as it allows the lawyers volunteering their time to concentrate on the mediations they take on instead of vetting clients and ensuring their financial need.
The JALA benefits as well, as it can now refer cases that can be successfully remedied with mediation to the ADR Section instead of using JALA resources to bring those cases to court. The financial and time resource savings for the local Legal Aid service are expected to be considerable. For the lawyers in the ADR Section, participation is not only morally and spiritually rewarding, it counts towards mandated pro-bono work and gives attorneys a forum to engage in and practice their mediation techniques.
Also participating is the McLeod Law Firm, which has donated meeting space for the pro-bono mediations, further reducing costs. With free meeting space and free mediation services from professionals, the JALA has had no qualms about referring clients to the ADR Section.