Go to a restaurant, a doctor’s waiting room or even a sporting event and you will find that some people are not looking up at their surroundings; they are looking down at their phones or other electronic devices. Today’s world is dominated by text and emails–forms of communication that don’t require human contact face-to-face. Communication can be difficult enough person-to-person but miscommunication can be more common in a text. For example, a text sent to someone who is waiting for a dinner date asking, “Where are you?” could be interpreted as anger concern or just curiosity.
Communication is important when negotiating complex legal matters. Many people don’t want to go through the expense of a costly and possibly lengthy trial. Some people simply want to negotiate fairly. Mediation brings both parties to the table so they can negotiate the case face-to-face.
Mediation has the following benefits:
The parties save money. The longer a case goes on, more legal fees are incurred. Mediation can help settle a case quickly and save court costs and legal fees.
The parties have control of the outcome. Juries are unpredictable. A jury is made up of six to twelve people, each with their own perspective and beliefs. You may see the case one way (in some cases the judge may agree with you and disagree with the jury) but the jurors may see it differently. One juror may see the case differently than the rest of the panel and create a hung jury. Anytime a case goes before a jury, there is an uncertainty as to what they will do.
The parties keep their privacy. Mediation is confidential. You may not want to say certain things in an open courtroom, even if they could help your case because they are personal or divulge information you need to keep to yourself. When you negotiate in mediation, what is said cannot be disclosed in a court proceeding unless the information is about a crime.
The parties converse in mediation. In court, attorneys are the voice of the client. During this type of alternative dispute resolution, the clients have an opportunity to express their views.
The parties negotiate an agreement. Mediation focuses on resolution. In a trial, the parties are adversaries and one will “win” and one will “lose.” It is designed to help each party come to an agreement that settles the issue.
If you are in a dispute and are considering mediation, prepare as you would a trial. After you have reached an agreement, make sure you have it in writing.