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Mediators, lawyers and other skilled helpers normally exhort disputants to obtain “independent legal advice” before or after entering into negotiations. This article attempts to demystify and catalogue the concept of “legal advice” particularly in family disputes. Such a catalogue of in-formation and advice quickly raises a series of questions:
• How much of this information and advice is actually made available at present?
• How much information is necessary or helpful?
• In what manner, form and language should such advice be given?
• By whom should such advice be given?
• How much of this information is within the competence of a single professional work group (such as lawyers or counsellors)?
• On what timing should such advice be given?
The article concludes that all these questions need ongoing research. Meanwhile, the sources, forms and price of (legal) advice should be creatively diversified in Australia in order to meet the needs of large numbers of disputants who enter into negotiation or mediation “in the shadow of the law”. This is a challenge for creative lawyers, counsellors, mediators and other skilled helpers who seek to prepare clients for negotiation or mediation.