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NATIONAL Solicitors Network Conquest is to launch a family mediation programme to enable members to integrate Lord Mackay's recommendations on mediation-related client support into their own practices.
Members voted overwhelmingly to introduce the new initiative following the recent release of the White Paper on divorce reform.
Network chair Richard Berenson welcomes the positive response from members, saying it is essential for solicitors to take a central role in the divorce process.
"They clearly see the increased prominence of mediation in the divorce process as an opportunity to extend the range of services that they can provide to clients, rather than as a threat to their livelihood," says Berenson.
The programme will run in three phases, with general training given in the first two sections, and an additional third section for those people wanting to become fully-accredited mediators.
Phase one will include a general introduction to matrimonial mediation, aimed at all members of a matrimonial department. The core knowledge needed by solicitors to introduce and assist clients through mediation will be provided in the second phase.
Operations director Robin Richard says Conquest produced plans for the initiative after consultations with members and mediation organisations during the past 18 months.