I recently traveled out to Spokane, Washington and met with a group of concerned mediators there about an ethics opinion that’s been issued by their State Bar Association (WSBA Advisory Opinion 2223).
The opinion, while only an “advisory” statement from the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee, and not the official position of the Washington Bar Association, is nevertheless disturbing; it purports to prohibit a lawyer/mediator from drafting the final settlement documents for a couple that he or she has just mediated to resolution. This goes beyond the expected “Unauthorized Practice of Law” rules that would prohibit a therapist/mediator from drafting the final, legal documents — this Opinion would prohibit a divorce mediator who’s also an attorney in good standing in the state from helping the couple by drafting their court documents.
It doesn’t stop there. (more…)