Any conflict can be a stressful situation, but mediation can make the process easier. By using a mediator you have a neutral party in the middle of your dispute or conflict to help you solve the problem. A court also puts a third party—a judge or a jury—in the middle of the plaintiff and defendant’s conflict, so that the judge or jury can solve the problem. The main difference between what a court does and what mediation does is that the court solves (passes judgment on) the problem for the parties; mediation helps you solve the problem for yourselves.
Mediation is an informal and confidential way for people to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator who is trained to help people discuss their differences. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the mediator helps the parties work out their own solutions to problems.
One of the greatest benefits is that mediation allows you to resolve the conflict in a way that meets your own unique needs. Also, a conflict can be resolved faster through mediation. Mediation is fair, efficient and can help you avoid a lengthy investigation and litigation.
When mediation works, it can be inexpensive and fast. Your problem is solved and you can move on with your life. You avoid the costs of litigation and save a great deal of time and stress.
Mediation is a confidential procedure. Confidentiality serves to encourage frankness and openness in the process by assuring the parties that any admissions, proposals or offers for settlement will not have any consequences beyond the mediation process. It allows the Parties to work together, with the assistance of a trained and skilled mediator, to come to a settlement agreement that both parties should find to be fair and equitable.
What types of cases are suitable for mediation?
It is not necessary for cases to have legal issues and/or lawsuits pending. The majority of cases are civil in nature. Mediations may involve personal injury and property damage claims, insurance coverage disputes, real estate, business, tenants and landlords, families, neighborhoods, juvenile offenders, the workplace, corporate, employment, construction, health care, church and community disputes.
Should I consider mediation?
Mediation is always an option if you are thinking about taking your dispute to court. Other signs may be:
- if the dispute has been ongoing
- if you want to preserve a relationship being affected by the conflict
- if the dispute is upsetting and affecting your daily life
- if you cannot afford the time and cost involved with litigation
- if you would like to speak to the other party so they may hear your concerns
- if you would like to resolve the dispute yourself without a third party judgment.
The mediator’s role
The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication between the parties, not to impose solutions. Mediators do not advise, take sides or render a judgment. Instead, the mediator will work with all the parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable resolution. And unlike a judge or an arbitrator whose decisions subject one party to win and the other party to lose, mediation is about finding a solution that works for both parties. The mediator facilitates productive conversations that are often not possible when the individuals try to have these discussions themselves and which are even less likely to happen if the case goes to court. The goal in mediation is a settlement that both individuals feel works for them and that they created themselves. The result is a binding and enforceable written agreement between the individuals which allows them to complete their case without having to go to court or incur more fees for litigation.
Although mediators may provide ideas, suggestions, or even formal proposals for settlement, the mediator is primarily a “process person,” helping the parties define the agenda, identify and reframe the issues, communicate more effectively, find areas of common ground, negotiate fairly, and hopefully, reach an agreement. A mediator will help create an environment that fosters meaningful conversation between all parties-clients and attorneys alike. A successful mediation effort has an outcome that is accepted and owned by the parties themselves.
Mediators bring the parties together, help them describe the problem in terms of negotiable interests and needs rather than non-negotiable positions, and develop a set of ideas for how the interests and needs of both sides can be met simultaneously. The mediator will then help the parties assess the relative merits of the different options and draft an agreement that works best to satisfy everyone’s interests. It is up to the parties, however, to decide whether to accept the final agreement or not. While there may be considerable pressure to agree to the settlement, if it does not meet the needs of a party, that party is still free to reject the settlement and try an alternative conflict resolution technique such as litigation.
Why try to avoid Litigation
Litigation is “win/lose”, meaning there is a winner and a loser. However, if you question people who have been through litigation you will find anger and bitterness lingering years after the case ended, and even if they won. Litigation does not often respect the needs of the individuals or their dignity. Mediation is centered on the need for people to truly hear each other at a deeper level than that possible in litigation, and for them to craft their own resolutions that work for them rather than having a settlement imposed by a court.
Mediation is particularly valuable when your dispute involves another person with whom — either by choice or circumstance — you need to remain on good terms. This may include family members, co-workers, business partners, your landlord, neighbors, or others with whom you have a continuing personal or business relationship. Lawsuits polarize and may ultimately ruin relationships, so a huge advantage of mediation is its ability to get a dispute resolved without destroying a relationship.
One of the drawbacks of going to court is that, by and large, everything said or submitted in connection with a lawsuit becomes available to the public. Only by a special order of a judge can information be “sealed” from public exposure. So whether your desire is to protect your trade secrets or just to avoid airing your dirty laundry in public, your privacy will be substantially greater with mediation than with litigation. By contrast, with very few exceptions, what you say during mediation cannot legally be revealed outside the mediation proceedings or used later in a court of law.
Finally, agreements reached through mediation are more likely to be carried out than those imposed by a judge. A number of studies show that people who have freely arrived at their own solutions through mediation are significantly more likely to follow through on them.
A trained mediator will have knowledge of multiple mediation modalities for use in the mediation process. At Solinger Law every possible effort will be utilized to achieve a successful mediation outcome administered with compassion and sensitivity to each parties needs wants and desires.
Having presided over hundreds of arbitrations we are also equipped to preside over your matter in arbitration, a more formal type of Alternate Dispute Resolution.