Mediation – An Alternative to Litigation

During mediation, a neutral third party (called a Mediator) helps parties reach their own mutually acceptable resolution of the case or dispute. It is an alternative to litigation that is flexible, confidential, economical and quicker than a trial. It also allows people to retain control of their own decisions and preserve relationships. It is a process used to resolve disputes about divorce, employment issues, insurance and real estate claims and business transactions.

At the beginning of a mediation session, the mediator will introduce himself and orient the participants to the process. He will then invite the parties to state their problem in their own words and identify what they hope to accomplish through a settlement. He may use open-ended questions to help the parties communicate and explore emotional undercurrents that they might not have been able to express otherwise. He will also confirm case data if briefs have been pre-submitted.

The parties will often be separated into caucuses by the mediator for more discussion of the case and exploration of possible solutions. The mediator will shuttle between these meetings as well as the joint sessions to facilitate bargaining and generate options. It is important to remember that the mediator cannot give you legal advice or take sides, and that all information shared in a caucus remains confidential unless the party agrees to share it.

Ultimately, mediation results in resolution of the case in about 80% of all cases mediated. Sometimes the resolution is “win-win.” More often it will be a compromise that one side considers to be minimally satisfactory but still better than a trial and the associated time and expense.

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