Littleton Chambers is to develop an extensive mediation service for clients in anticipation of a move away from advocacy work at the Bar.
Twelve of the civil and commercial law set's 35 barristers have now undertaken mediation training as part of a policy to develop its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practice.
In a pioneering move, the Temple set brought trainers from the Centre For Dispute Resolution (CEDR) into chambers over the summer break to teach barristers at the set how to become effective mediators.
The week-long course, developed by barrister Karl Mackie and solicitors David Miles and William Marsh, outlines how to carry out mediation and stresses its difference from negotiation.
"Mediation is not trying to negotiate a settlement or impose your ideas," explained deputy head of chambers Michel Kallipetis QC.
"The mediator's role is to assist the parties in coming to an agreement for settlement."
Kallipetis said the beauty of ADR and mediation was that it tackled the underlying issues and agendas that all parties carried with them into a dispute.
It also let them maintain a business relationship that can often be destroyed in the rough and tumble of a court battle.
Kallipetis dismissed the suggestion that the set was robbing itself of the financial lifeblood of briefs by offering mediation. The set believes that by offering more diverse services it will attract more clients.
"There is always going to be some litigation," said Kallipetis, "but there are a huge number of disputes that are trapped in litigation because that is the only way the parties involved can see it being resolved."
Littleton Chambers chief executive David Douglas said the growing call for mediation from the bench, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Woolf's access to justice report had convinced the set that ADR would be an essential part of the chambers of the future.
He said special rooms had been set up within the chambers where counsel could conduct mediation and assist clients that were involved in ADR.