Lawyer Vs. Mediator

Jan 24, 2018

Lawyers and mediators work in the same field but the focus of their work is different. This article looks at some of the common duties these professionals perform and also explores some of the distinctions between lawyers and mediators.

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Comparing Lawyers to Mediators

Lawyers and mediators both work in the legal field but lawyers are required to have more extensive training and be licensed. As a result, lawyers typically earn substantially higher salaries than mediators do.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Lawyers Law degree and law license $118,160 9%
Mediators Bachelor's degree $59,770 (arbitrators, mediators and conciliators) 11% (arbitrators, mediators and conciliators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Lawyers vs. Mediators

Lawyers and mediators both meet with clients as part of their duties. One of the distinctions between lawyers and mediators is that lawyers represent their client, which could be the government, a company or an individual. Mediators do not represent an individual client but hear both sides of a dispute and seek to find a solution to the conflict that both sides will agree to. Lawyers and mediators may both prepare legal documents, although the types of documents they produce are different. Legal research may be required for both professions. It's common for lawyers to work with large staff teams and have paralegals or others who they may assign research and case preparation tasks to while mediators may work independently and be responsible for everything from scheduling to billing.


Lawyers spent a great deal of time working in offices where they consult with clients and prepare legal materials. They may also travel to prisons or other locations to meet with their clients, and travel is also required when they appear at court proceedings. They often work overtime. Some lawyers are employed by individuals while others work for organizations or the government. Those who are interested in a particular area of law, such as environmental law, may opt to specialize and focus on that area. With experience lawyers may advance to become a partner in a law firm or they may opt to pursue a career as a judge.

Job responsibilities of a lawyer include:

  • Reviewing case law
  • Presenting clients with legal options
  • Filing legal motions
  • Presenting laws in written form
  • Creating regulations
  • Supervising staff


Mediators are facilitators that strive to help parties resolve legal issues outside of court hearings. They may be employed by the government or they may run their own business. Most of their work is done in an office although some travel may be required to meet with parties. Mediators do not necessarily need to have a law degree and law license but those that do have these credentials may choose to pursue work as a lawyer or judge. It is important that they have strong interpersonal skills and good listening skills so that they can effectively engage the parties their working with.

Job responsibilities of a mediator include:

  • Scheduling mediation sessions
  • Researching legal information related to their cases
  • Explaining how mediation works
  • Identifying the key concerns of each party
  • Promoting dialogue between parties
  • Producing written agreements

Related Careers

Aspiring lawyers may also want to consider a future as an arbitration attorney because arbitration attorneys also help settle legal disputes. If a career as a mediator sounds appealing then being a human resource specialist may also be a suitable career option because human resource specialists are often responsible for resolving workplace conflicts.

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