What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a facilitator – the mediator – assists people to settle a dispute. The parties come to the settlement agreement themselves. The mediator utilizes a variety of skills to assist them in reaching consensus.
Significant benefits come from resolving a case through mediation. They include direct rewards as well as the avoidance of pain and penalty that could come without the resolution.
What you get:
- A welcoming process.
- You can describe your view of the issues and discuss it in detail directly with the mediator. Sometimes this is done in the presence of the opposing side, but often it is done privately with only your lawyer (if you have one) at your side. The mediator becomes the intermediary to take your perspective to the people on the other side(s) of the disagreement. A good mediator respects each viewpoint and recognizes its validity. Unlike a judge, the mediator is non-judgmental, but works with all sides to develop a resolution acceptable to everyone.
- Instead of the ceremonial, sometimes intimidating, formalities of a courtroom, the mediation suite is a supportive environment. While you are there, the suite is devoted to your matter only. You will have comfortable furniture and the availability of beverages and snacks.
- Your own agreement. The parties themselves reach the deal. In mediation no result is imposed upon an unwilling participant. There is a settlement only if is acceptable to you.
- Creative answers. “Outside the box” solutions can be achieved that would be unavailable through litigation or binding arbitration. Options such as time payments, public apologies, in-kind offers or whatever you may propose could be part of a perfect conclusion to the difficult conflict.
- Privacy. A key principle of government in our democracy is the openness and public manner in which decisions are made. Courts are public institutions which proudly operate “in the light of day.” However, there may be no need for you to air your personal dispute in public. Mediation takes place away from the courthouse and includes only the participants to the disagreement itself.
- Finality. This is a big one. When you leave a successful mediation session, the dispute is ended. If a case had been filed in court, the lawyers will prepare final papers to have it dismissed. The case will be over. You’ll be relieved of the stress and uncertainty of the matter once and for all.
What you avoid:
- Cost. Courtroom litigation is expensive. Good lawyers are well worth the price, but the price is high. Even in contingency fee cases, litigants can incur whopping expenses from the pre-trial process of depositions, document reproduction and hiring of expert witnesses.
- Time and effort. It takes time to prepare well and effort to effectively participate in the mediation process. But these are minor compared to the commitment required for pre-trial, at trial and post-trial processes of full-fledged litigation.
- Uncertainty is painful. It takes time for a courtroom lawsuit to come to trial. But after waiting months or years for a verdict, you still have no conclusion. Post-trial appeals are just a new phase, which forces upon you an even longer wait for completion and finality.
- Lack of control adds harmful stress to your life. In litigation, you turn the course of your case over to others – the judge, the court staff, the expert witnesses and the lawyers. In mediation, you have a direct and essential say as to the timing, location and entire process used to get your matter resolved.