Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It provides parties with a flexible, time efficient and cost effective process for resolving conflicts by meeting face-to-face with their opposing party.
During mediation, the mediator helps the parties find a mutually acceptable solution to their conflict. In many cases, the solution found in mediation is better than what would be achieved through a trial and a judicial decision. Mediation is also confidential and private, which allows parties to discuss sensitive financial and personal information without risk of exposure to the public or other parties.
A mediation session begins with a joint session, where both sides meet with the mediator and describe their views on the underlying issues in their case. The mediator will often use open-ended questions to help the parties get to the emotional undercurrents of their conflict and may repeat back key ideas frequently in order to foster understanding of both sides’ views.
Following the joint session, the mediator will caucus with each party or their counsel to talk privately about specific issues in their case and the potential for resolution of their conflict. During caucus, the mediator will not reveal confidential information that has been discussed in caucus to the other party or counsel until they reconvene in a joint session, unless the person providing the confidential information consents to its disclosure.
Once the mediator has gathered enough information, they will begin the task of bargaining and generating options for resolution of the dispute. Depending on the complexity of the case, it can take several hours, days, weeks, or even months for the parties to reach an agreement. In about 80% of all mediations, the result is a settlement that both sides consider to be satisfactory, avoiding the risks and uncertainty of going to trial.