A mediator or an attorney?

November 3, 2006

Both my partner-to-be and I agree that the buy-in agreement we signed years ago needs to be renegotiated. But we disagree on some issues. Should we hire a mediator to help us hammer out a new contract, or should we each hire our own attorney?

Q:Both my partner-to-be and I agree that the buy-in agreement we signed years ago needs to be renegotiated. But we disagree on some issues. Should we hire a mediator to help us hammer out a new contract, or should we each hire our own attorney?

A: Try the mediation approach first. Attorneys are trained to "zealously represent" their clients, and this adversarial approach could make it harder to reach an agreement. A mediator can help you come to a resolution more quickly. However, be aware that not all trained mediators have experience dealing with physician contract issues. Since anyone can act as a mediator, you may be better off with a practice management consultant or a lawyer who understands how physician practices operate. Your local medical society should be able to direct you to a qualified person. Or you can contact the American Health Lawyers Association ( www.healthlawyers.org) or your state association for professional mediators.

You and your colleague should meet with the mediator together so the three of you always will be on the same page, aware of everything that was said and considered.