>> Sep 8, 2016
Businesses and individuals alike often find that a mediator can help them find a better resolution to their legal disputes than they will get from a judge. Some of the well-known advantages of mediation include getting a faster resolution, lower cost, and maintaining control of the outcome. In order to get the greatest benefit of mediation, all involved parties need to come to an agreement about all the issues in dispute so that they avoid still having to go to court.
The Mediation Process
The mediation process is a somewhat informal process designed to create an atmosphere of peace and encourage cooperation. At the same time, there is a structure to the process that anyone should be aware of before beginning. Following are the basic steps that the mediation process follows:
1. Everyone begins the hearing in a pre-determined setting that is not in a courtroom. The mediator introduces everyone involved in the process and explains the rules and goals they are there to achieve.
2. Each party makes an opening statement about the dispute, the impact it has had on their life/business, and some of the ways they feel the dispute could be resolved. Each party is allowed to speak their turn without interruption from the other party.
3. The discussion begins on the issues brought up during the opening statements.
4. The mediator will meet with each party privately to evaluate their strong and weak points and to determine what compromises they might make to help them reach a settlement. This step may occur once or multiple times.
5. Once the private meetings are concluded, the parties may come together to negotiate. Even if the issues have been resolved during the private meetings, they can discuss the issues together and make certain that everyone is in agreement.
6. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will prepare a written document containing the provisions they have agreed on. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, an assessment of the progress reached during the hearing will help to determine the best step to take from that point. The parties may want to try an additional hearing, move to arbitration where the arbitrator makes the final decision, or enter litigation in court.
Choosing a Mediator
The neutral is the most important figure in the mediation process and, often, the only one other than the opposing parties. It is their job to seek solutions that are agreeable and fair to both sides. The neutral for your case will guide the entire process and will have enough experience to foresee what types of settlements you are open to. Jeffrey M. Bloom is a certified mediator who has the experience and skills to guide clients through a successful mediation process.
Look for education, training, and associations with mediation organizations. Simply making a choice in a lawyer who is skilled at litigation and also provides mediation services is not enough. Choose someone who has mediated many cases similar to yours. The more experience they have in handling similar cases they have, the better you can expect them to be at successfully handling yours.