Clients' Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process in which the parties to a dispute meet with a mediator to negotiate a mutually agreed upon resolution. 

What happens in mediation?

The parties initially sit in separate rooms until the mediator meets with them.  Usually, the mediator brings them together for a joint session.  In the joint session, the mediator reviews the mediation agreement and explains how to make the process efficient and effective.  The parties discuss the facts and their interests.  The mediator provids a neutral environment and a process to keep the parties focused.  The parties often separate into two separate rooms to discuss the issues with the mediator privately.  The mediator may move between the rooms to facilitate resolution of the issues.

Do I need to have an attorney?

The parties are required to have their attorneys attend mediation.  The mediator is not the attorney for either party and cannot prepare legal documents for the parties.

What happens when the parties reach an agreement?

When the parties reach an agreement, the parties generally sign an agreement settling the case and terminating court action.  After the case is settled, the financial and emotional drain of litigation ends, the participants are able to focus on other aspects of their lives and often professional or personal relationships are restored.  The parties generally feel relief and are pleased they were able to resolve the dispute without court.

Attorneys' Frequently Asked Questions

How should I prepare for mediation?

Explain the mediation process to your clients.  In mediation, unlike court, parties are empowered to make their own decisions rather than having a judge make a decision.  Prepare to negotiate.  Clarify and prioritize issues.  Assess all sides of the case, key evidence, strengths, weaknesses, risks and reasonable alternatives to settlement.

What information is helpful to the mediator in advance?

Mediation statements and key pleadings help the mediator prepare for mediation.  Mediation statements should include: undisputed facts, disputed facts, procedural posture, legal issues, underlying concerns, motivations, pressure points and confidential issues.

What makes negotiation effective?

Be flexible and prepare your client to be flexible.  Adjust your strategies as you learn what the other parties want and need.  Focus on reasons not positions.  If you have differences, determine the reasons for the differences.  Negotiation is about compromise.  Always consider your best, worst, and likely alternatives to the negotiated settlement.  Follow-up mediations are sometimes necessary when additional information or time is required.

How can I prepare for closure?

A draft settlement agreement or release may be prepared in advance.  Drafting an agreement may alert attorneys to clauses that may need to be discussed prior to final settlement.  Parties are generally pleased when the mediation process results in closure and a signed settlement agreement ends further court proceedings.