At a recent meeting of the Conference of Civil Presiding Judges in New Jersey (“Conference”), the question was raised as to whether non-attorneys could appear on behalf of a business entity at a Court ordered mediation. This question was referred by the Conference to the New Jersey Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee (“Committee”). The Committee determined that such appearances are not permissible under the applicable New Jersey Rules of Court and Professional Responsibility.

At the same meeting, the Conference also addressed the issue as to whether an attorney, not admitted in New Jersey, may represent a party at a New Jersey Court ordered mediation without first being admitted pro hac vice. The Conference concluded that such representation may only take place in specific, limited circumstances. The Conference defined such circumstances as where “the lawyer engages in representation of a party to a dispute by participating in arbitration, mediation or other alternate or complimentary dispute resolution program on behalf of an existing client in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice and the dispute originates in or is otherwise related to a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.”

Mediation in New Jersey has become mandatory in most cases and usually takes place in the early stages of litigation. Mediators are appointed by the Court from a State appointed list, but the litigants have the option of choosing their own mediator.