What is mediation?

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that does not involve the court system. The way it works is that the parties to a dispute pick a mediator, who is usually someone who is familiar and knowledgeable about your type of dispute but who is not connected to any of the parties (they should be unbiased).  Once the parties pick a mediator, the parties will schedule a time to meet with the mediator.  

Role of the mediator

At this mediation (also referred to as a settlement conference), the mediator will listen to the arguments and positions of each party in a confidential setting. A mediation can last hours or days, depending on the case.

The mediator’s primary goal is to figure out what each party wants and try to get all the parties to come to some kind of compromise. Unlike a judge or jury, a mediator cannot force the parties to do anything that they don’t want to do. A mediator simply provides guidance, but the parties can choose to accept or reject that guidance.

Mediation advantages

Mediation has many advantages to a trial. For one, while the costs of mediation may rise to a few thousand dollars if the mediation takes all day, the costs of a week-long trial can easily amount to $20,000-$30,000.  

Secondly, at a mediation, the parties know exactly what they are walking away with if they decide to accept the offer / proposal that the mediator has negotiated. This certainty is sometimes worth a lot to people. In a trial, on the other hand, the parties don’t know what the outcome is until the jury comes back with a verdict at the end of the trial. And unlike a mediator’s suggestions, the verdict of a jury is final and binding on all the parties (with very few exceptions such as an appeal).

A good alternative for your case

For these reasons, we believe that mediation is generally a great option for most people’s cases. For minimal costs (generally no more than a few thousand dollars), you can potentially avoid an expensive and time-consuming trial. There is also very little risk or downside, since a mediator cannot make you settle your case or force you to do anything. Rather, they offer their professional experience and guidance to each party with the purpose of trying to persuade the parties to voluntarily come together and compromise.