Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method where a neutral third party facilitates negotiations between disputing parties to help them come up with mutually acceptable settlement agreements. It is typically more prompt, less formal and much cheaper than traditional litigation. It is used to resolve disputes involving commercial and personal matters, including contract, real estate and insurance claims, family law cases and workplace issues. Mediation is voluntary and can occur in informal contexts, such as friends settling an argument, or in more specific settings like mediation programs at schools or courts.
The process is flexible and focuses on the parties’ needs, rights and interests. The mediator helps the participants brainstorm options for resolving their conflict, reframes issues, assists the participants to understand each other and identify solutions. It is important that participants enter the mediation willing to compromise and open to new ideas for resolution, as the process can be difficult. Participants should also avoid entering the mediation with predetermined “bottom lines” as this can limit their flexibility.
The mediation is typically confidential, and the mediator will assist the parties in drafting a mutually acceptable agreement. In some instances, the mediator may be able to suggest a resolution which is legally binding and can be submitted to a court of law. However, it is the responsibility of each participant to independently review the settlement agreement and to seek legal counsel if needed. Attorney Richard H. Fuller at Anderson O’Brien regularly mediates cases and represents clients in mediation proceedings as part of his general civil litigation practice. what is mediation