Mediation is a process in which a neutral and impartial third person (the mediator) works to help parties to a lawsuit negotiate and make decisions together about the important issues that need to be resolved.
Mediators have special training to help people compromise their differences, reach agreements and settle cases. Mediation falls under the rules about settlement negotiation, which means that anything and everything that is said in mediation is private. Nothing either party says in mediation may be used against that person in court. Neither side may ask the mediator to appear in court to discuss what happened in mediation.
Generally, each side will be in separate rooms, and the mediator will move between rooms during the mediation process to convey settlement offers and creative ideas for settlement. Mediation is less formal than a court hearing or trial. The mediator is not a judge and will not make decisions for you or tell you what you must do. The mediator does not determine facts, give legal advice, or decide the outcome of your case. Instead, the mediator helps you understand each other’s concerns, identify options, and find solutions. The goal of mediation is to help you reach a voluntary agreement with solutions that work for your situation.
Mediation is a safe place. The ideal outcome of mediation is complete resolution and settlement of all claims between the participants. However, even when that does not happen, the outcome may still be positive. Sometimes partial agreements can be reached at mediation. Even if no agreements are reached, often more information is learned at mediation about the other side's theories and motives that can result in either settlement after mediation or a successful trial.
How We Approach Mediation
There are many quality mediators. With few exceptions, we generally agree to use the mediator that the other side is willing to use, as we want the other side to feel good about going to mediation and to have ownership in any settlement that is reached. Although mediation is very different from trial, we approach mediation in a similar way to trial. Like trial judges, mediators only know what they're told by each side. We work to provide the mediator with important information and evidence about the case in advance before the mediation session. If we have already made a written settlement offer to the other side, we share the written settlement offer with the mediator before the mediation session. Many attorneys do not take the time to send the mediator any information. We have an advantage in the mediation session because the mediator already has important information from us about our position and why our position is reasonable. The way we approach mediation impacts how mediation works. Each side is in different rooms. In our mediations, the mediator spends a significantly greater amount of time in the other room than the mediator spends in our room. This is because we have already shaped the mediation by sending advance information, so the mediator spends most of the time in the other room working on the other side for settlement. Our approach to mediation often facilitates successful mediation outcomes for our clients.