When in mediation, she let me handle most of the deliberation. She did not intervene as much as she should have. When I asked her about that, she said I was doing a good job. When writing up the agreement for the mediation, she added something that we did not discuss, nor agree upon. When going over the papers, I questioned her about it and she stated "that is was Utah law". Later, asking another attorney about this, she said that was not the case. That "mistake" cost me over $20,000.
Response from Diana Huntsman September 8, 2014
I am so sorry you feel I cost you money, and that I did not represent you well at mediation. I care about each of my clients, and fight to represent each of you to the best of my abilities. It saddens me to learn of a client who does not feel I represented them well.
Regarding the specifics of your complaint, I'm somewhat confused. I typically handle the entire discussion for my client during the joint portion of mediation (when the other side is present). I almost never let my client handle those discussions. On the other hand, when we're in private meetings with just us and the mediator, a client can (of course) say whatever they like. However, those discussions aren't disclosed to the other side.
As for decisions in mediation, I talk to my client at length during our private meetings about what I think we should propose, and whether or not I think the terms the other side is proposing are in their best interest. We also talk about whether I think they could do better in Court than what is being proposed.
That being said, the ultimate decision regarding what terms to propose and what terms to accept, is always my client's. I give my best advice; however, a client can follow that advice or not. Ethically, attorneys are required to respect their client's right to make settlement decisions, because those decisions involve their life, not ours.
As for adding terms to the mediation papers which weren't agreed to, again, I'm confused. If a case is resolved in mediation, there was a written agreement prepared, edited, read by the parties, by the attorneys, and by the mediator, and then signed. If the terms weren't agreed to, why would you sign? Why wouldn't the mediator intervene?
You indicate that I said the additional term was "Utah law," but that I was mistaken. I would greatly appreciate you explaining this part further. Having handled family law cases for 20 years, I like to think I know the law inside and out. However, I also realize I'm human. If there is an area where I have a mistaken understanding of the law, I would genuinely welcome being educated, so that I can avoid making a similar mistake with another client.
If I did not make a mistake, I would also welcome the opportunity to show you the law that applies, so you will at least, hopefully, feel better about how your case was resolved.
Regardless, I appreciate your feedback. I hope you have been able to move forward from your divorce in a positive way, and I wish you the best.