Mediation, a type of alternative dispute resolution, commonly referred to as ADR, that aims to help parties solve their problems without fighting and in a non-adversarial manner by coming together in a neutral environment, with or without their attorneys, assisted by a mediator who facilitates a conversation and principled negotiation.
Mediation can occur in person or virtually, and there are different formats. For example, there is shuttle mediation, which means that each party has their own separate room with the mediator going back and forth between the two, and there is a type of mediation where everyone sits in the same room together.
Benefits of mediation vs. litigation
- Mediation offers many things that litigation simply cannot. It is informal and flexible, and there are no rules of evidence or the necessity of witnesses.
- The process is strictly confidential and private. Mediators do not disclose any information to anyone outside the mediation.
- Mediation is non-binding, meaning that the parties do not have to agree and can terminate mediation at any time. If the parties come to an agreement, they can send that to the court and make the agreement enforceable.
- Mediation is faster and less expensive than going to court, and it gives the parties a greater degree of control. They can negotiate their settlements and reach a better outcome because the parties are at the center of the mediation and an essential part of it.
One of the best parts of mediation is that it aims to preserve relationships. The mediator’s intent, while facilitating a conversation between the parties that leads to an agreement, is also to protect the parties from themselves, in a way. In court, it is easy for the parties to go after each other, sometimes destroying their relationship.
Mediators genuinely want to see the parties walk out of the mediation room, in-person or virtually, having reached an agreement that benefits everyone and allows for civility. Many mediators consider this a successful mediation.