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Mediation, like arbitration, is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which opposing parties seek the assistance of a neutral third party. Mediators, however, are not decision-makers, but rather professionals trained in negotiation techniques. They function more as diplomats, facilitating reasonable dialogue and helping the opponents come to an agreement acceptable to both parties. There are several advantages to mediation over court proceedings. Mediation is:
  • Less adversarial
  • Less expensive
  • Less formal
  • Less time-consuming

At times, mediation is required by a contract between the parties. At other times, the court insists that disputing parties try alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before resorting to litigation. Mediators can be found through referrals from courts or bar associations, and there are companies that provide ADR services. While desirable, it is not essential that a mediator have some training or background in the area of the law under consideration. A mediator should, however, have training and some experience in alternative dispute resolution.

Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that allows parties to seek a remedy for their conflict without a court trial. Parties work with a mediator, who is a neutral third party. Usually, mediators have received some training in negotiation or their professional background provides that practical experience.

Unlike a judge, a mediator does not decide who wins; rather, a mediator facilitates communication between the parties and helps identify issues and solutions. The goal is for parties to reach an acceptable agreement.

Mediation can be an appealing option because it is less adversarial. This might be important when the relationship between the parties has to continue in the future, such as between a divorcing couple with children. The process is also less formal than court proceedings.
Mediation often costs less than litigation, which is another benefit. Another advantage to using mediation is that it generally takes much less time than a traditional lawsuit. Litigation can drag on for years, but mediation can typically be completed within a few months. Court systems are embracing mediation and other forms of ADR in an effort to clear their clogged dockets. There are some programs that are voluntary, but in some jurisdictions, pursuing ADR is a mandatory step before a lawsuit can proceed.

Mediation can be used in a variety of cases, and it is sometimes required by a contract between the parties. Mediators can be found through referrals from courts or bar associations, and there are companies that specifically provide ADR services. Ideally, a mediator will have some training or background in the area of law related to your dispute.

Mediation is often a successful way to reach a settlement. If parties fail to resolve their conflict, information learned during mediation might be protected as confidential under state law.  Contact our law firm today to help determine if mediation would be a valuable tool to resolve your case.