Out of Joint: Replacing Joint Representations with Lawyer-Mediation in Friendly Divorces – Note by Avi Braz

From Volume 78, Number 1 (November 2004)

Joint client representation is a practice that is fundamentally important to the legal system. The cost of obtaining private legal services has been rising over the past decade. This trend poses a serious problem: while the cost of these services has skyrocketed, the ability of large segments of the population to pay for them has not matched pace. Often times, due to the economic constraints faced by an ever-growing segment of our society, parties in need simply cannot afford to obtain independent legal representation. To these individuals, joint representation constitutes one of the most viable and accessible methods of obtaining adequate legal representation.

Divorce litigation is one area where an overwhelming demand for legal representation exists and where the problem of unmet legal needs is particularly pervasive. One particular subset of divorce cases, the so-called friendly divorce, appears to be an ideal candidate for joint representation. In these cases, the couple has reached agreement on the majority of marital settlement issues and requires only limited legal assistance.