At our law firm, we do not hesitate to litigate a dispute in the courtroom or on appeal on behalf of a client. We also know that alternative dispute resolution methods, known collectively as ADR, can be smart options for our clients in lieu of trial in appropriate circumstances.
Depending on the case, we may utilize arbitration, conciliation, mediation, negotiation or the courtroom, but today we focus on mediation -- what it is, when a client might choose it and its pros and cons.
What is mediation?
Broadly, mediation is a dispute resolution process in which the two (or more) sides work through negotiations with the help of a neutral professional called a mediator, who has received special training in conflict resolution and communication techniques. Mediation is an attempt to bring parties to an agreement on settling a dispute privately, instead of by the decision of a third party like a judge or arbitrator.
Mediation can be utilized in disputes involving either individuals or commercial entities.
How does it work?
There are many mediation techniques and a mediator may use a variety of them, depending on the circumstances. He or she will likely help the parties shape the issues in dispute as well as recognize points of agreement. The mediator may suggest and help the parties come up with potential solutions. The mediator helps the parties explore and identify each side's goals and interests as well as how a resolution to the dispute could minimize each of their losses -- or at least bring an equal level of compromise.
If mediation does not produce a settlement, the parties can either choose another ADR method or proceed with litigation.
An in-depth discussion with an attorney experienced with ADR approaches can help a party to decide whether mediation may be positive in the case at hand. Some of the potential benefit can be:
- Less costly and faster than litigation
- Reduced stress and pressure
- Creative solutions that a judge may not have crafted, or the parties may not have thought of otherwise
- Parties may be able to save a personal or business relationship
- More private than the courtroom
Mediation is usually not a good option if there is great disparity in the bargaining power of the parties; if one is excessively controlling, vindictive, dishonest or overly aggressive; if the parties are in high conflict; or if there is any history of violence or abuse. In addition, mediation may be a waste of time if the case is frivolous or greatly favors one side, according to Ohio Jurisprudence on Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Knowledgeable legal counsel can answer questions about mediation in a given dispute.