What is Mediation? How to Find a Mediator.


What is Mediation?

Mediation is the second most popular form of alternative dispute resolution in the United States. Through mediation, individuals and companies with legal disputes can resolve their issues without having to go to court. It is significantly less expensive and far faster than traditional litigation. Mediation crosses over a number of legal fields, and can resolve disputes in almost every area of law.

Mediation itself refers to alternative dispute resolutions that involve a third party whose purpose is to reach an agreement. In many states, mediators do not even have to be licensed attorneys. Although, they may have to meet other state requirements such as state certifications, but those certifications may not require courtroom or legal experience.

Governing Law

Mediation does not actually require a governing law. The purpose of the mediation is to resolve the situation as amiably as possible. Most of the time, the mediator intends to improve relations. He cannot reach a final agreement. He can only guide both of the parties to a conclusion that they both agree upon. If the mediation remains unsuccessful, it can then go on to other legal channels. Legal rights to litigation are absolved through mediation unless expressly stated.

Reasons for Hiring a Mediator

Mediation costs significantly less than traditional litigation. Results cannot be guaranteed, but mediation generally does provide positive results. It is used to improve dialogue between the parties and find an agreement that works for both parties. The speed of the mediation significantly outstrips even the fastest court docket. Mediations can sometimes be completed within a matter of weeks as opposed to months and years. The amount of control during mediation significantly increases between both parties. You can specifically request what you want, and you do not have to worry about the judge overriding your requests. Mediation generally results in much higher rates of compliance because both the parties typically find a solution that they agree upon. The added benefit to mediation is that it is one of the more confidential methods for conflict resolution. Most states require strict confidentiality for all matters relating to the mediation.

What to Look for in a Mediator

In states that do not have legal requirements for an individual to call himself a mediator, make sure that you choose one who has at least been in some training or has positive experience. A well trained mediator should have experience in serving as a neutral facilitator and not imposing his own will. Ideally, he should also be creative and able to think outside the box. Lawyers who serve as mediators often fill this capacity well, but still look for one who has specialized in alternative dispute resolution. Many states have further specializations and certifications that take the attorneys through added courses and rigors.

Generally, you should look for a mediator who has a few years of experience. If the mediator does not have this experience, you can request that another more experienced mediator be present. Often times, the mediator may volunteer that himself. The mediator is someone whom you and the other party should agree upon. In this case, the first thing that the two of you may agree on is the mediator. If you cannot choose one, you can talk to your state bar's alternative dispute resolution association and request a recommendation. Some states assign mediators while others simply provide a list of recommended mediators. Neither you nor the other party should meet with the mediator alone. Doing so may constitute a conflict of interests, depending on your state. You should also make sure that the mediator that you work with is not someone who has had past dealings with you or the other party unless you have both agreed that that is acceptable.