A mediator is a neutral third party who helps parties in a dispute reach a settlement of their case. A mediator does not have any legal power to impose a settlement, but rather facilitates discussions with the goal of reaching an agreement that both sides can live with. Parties are not required to participate in mediation and may abandon the process if they find that it is not meeting their needs, but most participants actively engage in mediation with the intention of reaching a resolution.
Mediation takes less time than a lawsuit and can help preserve relationships with co-workers, family members and friends. A negotiated resolution can also be more cost effective than a court decision.
In addition, mediation is confidential which protects the privacy of sensitive business information and personal family issues. A court case often results in a public record that can be read by the general public, which can put private family and business matters at risk.
Evaluative mediators focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each side of a dispute to identify options that help parties reach a mutually satisfactory resolution. They use legal research, experience and expertise to assess the merits of a case and highlight possible outcomes that could be reached.
Facilitative mediators work to promote the parties’ ability to communicate with each other and increase understanding by clarifying communication through repetition, translation or rephrasing. They are also concerned with the underlying emotions that may be at play in a dispute and work to help the parties understand their personal perspectives on the matter.
Transformative mediators view conflict as a crisis in communication that requires both the parties to shift toward empowerment and recognition of one another’s perspective. They encourage deliberation, decision-making and perspective-taking in order to help the parties achieve self-determination and ownership of their own decisions and settlement agreements.
Mediators are experienced in the areas of law that they practice and have undergone extensive training to assist disputants in their negotiations. They are able to provide the insight and understanding needed to resolve the dispute quickly and fairly.
A mediated resolution is less likely to be violated in the future than a judicial ruling that is subject to appeal. The mediation process is much less stressful than litigating a case in court, which can be lengthy, expensive and emotionally exhausting for the parties. It is generally agreed that a negotiated settlement is in the best interests of both parties. Both sides must be willing to take less than they want in order for the case to settle, but doing so can help maintain a healthy relationship going forward and minimize ongoing disputes about the terms of the settlement. mediators