What is mediation?

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process by which a trained and experienced third party neutral mediator assists the parties to resolve their own dispute. The goal of mediation is to produce a written agreement wherein the parties’ conflicting interests are resolved fairly and the parties’ legitimate needs are met.

What does a mediator do?

A skilled mediator empowers and guides the parties to reach a fair and efficient resolution to their conflict. A mediator will listen to all parties in a dispute and attempt to understand each party’s interest in resolving their conflict. With these interests in mind, a mediator will use his objectivity to see past the positions held by all parties and work with the parties to find a solution to their dispute or conflict.

What characteristic should I look for in my mediator?

A good mediator should be:

  • Warm and friendly

  • Credible

  • A good communicator and listener

  • Able to gain the trust and confidence of the parties

  • Able to establish a rapport of bonding with the parties

  • Able to be open and honest

  • Able to let people vent and allow for people to express their emotions

  • Able to diffuse hostility

  • A good negotiator

What should I expect of my mediator during the mediation process?

A good mediator can be expected to do the following:

  • Establish guidelines for and to manage the mediation process in a fair and efficient manner and by always maintaining decorum and focus

  • To be as fully prepared for mediation as possible and read all material presented prior to mediation

  • Remain impartial and neutral throughout the mediation process

  • Provide a private, comfortable and safe environment for confidential communication

  • Identify and assess all pertinent information including each party’s interest (rather than position) in order to effectively develop strategies and determine collaborative solutions to resolve the parties’ dispute

  • Generate different options for resolving the parties’ conflict by listening, hearing and understanding all parties’ concerns and positions; encouraging creative problem solving by brainstorming with all parties; and identifying and communicating critical sticking points and key issues that may impede resolution

  • Manage and control parties’ emotions and minimize obstacles that may prevent a resolution

  • Demonstrate competence in the issues presented and the type of dispute being mediated

What kind of cases can Jeff mediate?

Although Jeff can mediate almost any type of dispute, Jeff has experience in the case types listed on this page.

How long does mediation take?

The length of mediation depends on the parties involved and their willingness to work in good faith with the mediator towards a mutual agreement. Jeff offers the parties the option of either a Full-Day or Half-Day option. Under certain circumstances, Jeff will conduct an two (2) hour mediation. See Cost, Payment and Cancellation Policies.

What are the different stages of mediation?

While mediation is much less formal than litigation, it must still be a structured environment if parties wish to achieve an agreeable resolution. While the actual stages of mediation can vary depending on the mediator, most follow a similar pattern. For more information, see Mediation Process.

How can I be assured of fair results?

Mediation is non-binding. Jeff is not a judge or decision maker. One of the hallmark characteristics of mediation is that decision making is retained by the parties themselves and not by the third party neutral mediator. Mediation allows the parties to control their own fate and to be part of the solution. No settlement can be reached without the agreement of all parties. Although the goal of mediation is to produce a mutually acceptable agreement, each party will undoubtedly be asked to make concessions. Candidly, often times, the best mediation agreement is where both parties leave somewhat disappointed.

Who should consider mediation?

Mediation is a great option for parties who wish to resolve their disputes is an efficient and fair manner and who want to participate in controlling the outcome of the case. Litigation is costly, time consuming and open to the public. Mediation provides a private forum for parties to resolve their disputes.

Is mediation confidential? Can it be used in court?

One of the most attractive aspects of mediation is that it can be held in a complete private setting. Parties can keep their dispute confidential as opposed to litigation which can be part of public record. Nothing said during mediation is admissible in court and the mediator cannot be called as a witness.

Does an agreement have to be made during mediation?

No. If all parties cannot come to a settlement and refuse to come to an agreement, they are free to pursue other avenues of resolution, oftentimes being litigation.

What is the difference between mediation and litigation?

In litigation, the party bringing the lawsuit (“plaintiff”) has to meet or satisfy the legal burden of proof (i.e., prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence) in order to be awarded damages. At the same time, the defendant will attack the plaintiff’s case by alleging that plaintiff has not met the burden of proof or that the amount of damages plaintiff is claiming are not supported by the evidence. Also, a defendant may allege certain legal defenses claiming that the plaintiff is not entitled the relief requested. In litigation, a judge will make certain legal rulings and a jury will decide issues of fact. As such, litigation is fraught with much uncertainty and more times than not, one side will “win” and the other side will “lose.” Moreover, almost always, court pleadings and disputes litigated in the court system are a matter of public record.

Mediation, on the other hand, brings parties together to solve their differences in private, confidential manner. If the parties are successful, there are no winners or losers because a third party neutral mediator will help the parties craft a mutually acceptable agreement for the parties. In mediation, the parties are empowered to be part of the solution and focuses on the most agreeable way of satisfying everyone’s interests. Unlike what happens at the court house in a litigated dispute, settlement options or resolutions at mediation are not just limited to the award of money. Mediation allows the parties to look for creative solutions that a judge or jury could never award.

Is mediation legally binding?

Mediation is a non-binding process. The mediator cannot issue any binding rulings or cannot impose any findings on the parties. However, if the parties resolve their case during mediation and sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement, the parties are bound by the terms of the agreement of the agreement.