Mediation services offer an informal, voluntary process for parties in a dispute to communicate and work out a solution that will be satisfactory to both sides. The mediator, who is typically an attorney or retired judge, facilitates discussion of the issues in the case and offers suggestions for possible ways to resolve them. The mediation session can last from a few hours to a full day, depending on the number of parties and complexity of the issues in dispute.
It is important to separate your interests from your positions. An interest is a desire to achieve something; a position is how you expect that interest to be satisfied. Taking time to identify your interests well in advance of mediation can help you be more open and creative in developing solutions.
Unlike a trial, mediation is confidential. Unless you specifically agree to make statements in the course of mediation public, everything said during mediation is confidential. This provides a level of privacy that can be valuable to parties in a case. It also eliminates the fear and uncertainty of a public airing of a controversy that can occur in court.
Mediation is an excellent option for cases involving personal injury, contract, real estate and insurance disputes. It can also be a useful tool to prevent conflicts from escalating into lawsuits. However, some cases require the intervention of a court and should not be subjected to mediation. For example, certain criminal matters, requests for the public airing of allegations and litigation over a precedent setting matter are inappropriate for mediation.