Mediation is a process whereby a third party – called the “mediator” or “neutral”- works with opposing parties in a dispute or litigation to try to help the parties resolve their matter prior to trial. The mediator is not a judge, and does not have any authority to render a judgment with respect to the outcome or dispute.
The Advantages of Mediation
The advantages of mediation include:
- Faster possible resolution. Often, it can take a year or even more to take a case to trial. Mediation, however, can take place at any time prior to trial. In fact, mediation can even take place prior to the commencement of litigation, although this is not the norm.
- Possible significant savings in legal fees. Taking a case to trial can be expensive, and does not always result in the best outcome. If a case can be resolved in mediation, the parties typically will typically save significantly in legal fees, as the extra work to prepare for and try a case can be avoided. Even in contingency fee cases, often clients that are successful in their matter will keep a higher percentage of the amount paid if a case can be settled prior to trial.
- The parties can craft their own solution to the matter. At trial, judges and juries are typically confined to deciding specific matters and related damages. For instance, in a breach of contract case for a construction job involving workmanship, the judge or jury normally will determine liability and an award of damages. In a mediation, the parties can work out their own remedies for a matter. They might, for instance, decide to jointly hire an unbiased expert to determine whether the workmanship matters were defective, and what should be done if the expert determines that this is the case. The parties can also agree upon matters like payment terms.
- Solutions worked out in mediation can save the parties significant emotional turmoil and time away from work. Litigation can be emotionally trying. For businesses, it can additionally mean taking away hours of work time of key leaders to focus on a litigation matter. The sooner that a case can be resolved, the sooner it is that everyone can go back to their lives and jobs.
How are Mediators Paid?
In most cases, the mediation costs are split between the parties. Often the mediators require payment for their time in advance of the mediation.
How Long Does Mediation Last?
The length of the mediation is flexible, and often depends upon the time and complexity of the matters at stake. Mediations are often scheduled for one day. It is possible, however, that if progress is being made, the mediation can be continued, perhaps a couple of weeks later, if the mediation does not result in a settlement at the end of the day.
We Advise Clients When We Believe that Mediation May be Advantageous
With some types of cases mediation may be mandatory, or it may be ordered by the court. Even when it is not mandatory, it may be advantageous.
We help clients thoroughly prepare for mediation in order to maximize the chance of resolving a matter on terms favorable to our clients.