Why should anyone who is not in the legal profession or the mediation business care about alternative dispute resolution? Here are few reasons why everyone should get to know this kind of conflict management. But first, let’s take a look at what mediation is…and isn’t.
The American Bar Association gives us this mediation definition:
“Mediation is a process in which an impartial third party facilitates communication and negotiation and promotes voluntary decision making by the parties to the dispute. Mediation serves various purposes, including providing the opportunity for parties to define and clarify issues, understand different perspectives, identify interests, explore and assess possible solutions, and reach mutually satisfactory agreements, when desired.”
The bottom line – mediation gives parties equal footing in the resolution of their dispute. And most mediation is the result of a court order, making ADR a great alternative than going to court. Rather than have a judge or an arbitrator hand down a judgment, ADR by a professional mediator focuses on exploring the issues that led to the dispute and finding areas of agreement that are going to last.
Mediation is not Arbitration. Arbitration is basically like hiring a private judge. Here’s a brief video on the difference between mediation and arbitration provided by the Indiana State Courts:
Here are four reasons you should consider mediation before you (or your attorney) file a lawsuit:
- Mediation resolves your problems…now! The U.S. legal system is built to drag litigation on. This is, in part, because of a lack of staff and resources. But is also because our legal framework assumes that there is an imaginary battle of opposing forces. There is the good versus evil, the innocent and the guilty. Court is about adversaries and is designed to find guilt. But civil cases that go to court often are more complex.
- Mediation costs are much, much lower than litigation. At around $250 per hour, mediation can settle disputes in one day, and often in one morning. Think five hundred dollars or a grand is a lot of money to settle a dispute? Think about how much work the disputant’s lawyers will but into a case that could last a year or more. They bill at $300 per hour and up. Mediation saves all those legal fees, which is why many lawyers fear mediation. And value of saving sleepless nights…priceless.
- Mediation, by nature, collaborative. Beyond the resolution of legal conflict, mediation gets to the core of differences between the interested parties. Most times, conflict is about something other than what is in dispute. In mediation these are called “underlying issues.” Think about divorce mediation or dispute resolution between partners in a small business. Is the problem really about who gets the blue couch? Trained mediators get to the heart of the dispute and find core issues.
- Mediation goes beyond courts. All the mediation techniques that work in heading off lawsuits also work outside of the legal system. Alternative dispute resolution methods are used in corporations, non-profit organizations, governments and in international diplomacy.
Now the trick is to convince attorneys that mediation’s benefits outweigh all those billable hours. And if you are an attorney who understands the value of mediation, the trick is to find trained mediators who will follow its best practices.
Private Dispute Resolution Service offers mediation, mediation training and conflict resolution services to those who want to manage conflict in their legal affairs, their organizations and their lives.