Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with concrete effects. Typically, a third party, the mediator, assists the parties in negotiating a settlement and facilitates rather than directs the process. Mediation is private and confidential and depending on the terms of the settlement, enforceable by law. The mediator does not issue a binding award. He or she assists the parties to understand the facts and law better and works towards an agreed result.
Mediators use various techniques to open or improve dialogue between the parties with the goal of helping the parties reach an agreement. Much depends on the mediator's skill and training.
The benefits of mediation include:
- Cost—While a mediator may charge a substantial one day fee, the mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. While a case in the hands of a lawyer or a court may take months or years to resolve, mediation usually achieves a resolution in a matter of one day.
- Confidentiality—While court hearings are public, mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but the parties to the dispute and the mediator knows what happened.
- Control—Mediation increases the control the parties have over the resolution. In a court case, the parties obtain a resolution, but control resides with the judge or jury. Often, a judge or jury cannot legally provide solutions that emerge in mediation. Thus, mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable for the parties.
- Compliance—Because the result is attained by the parties' working together and is mutually agreeable, compliance with the mediated agreement is usually high. This further reduces costs because the parties do not have to employ an attorney to force compliance with the agreement. The mediated agreement is, however, fully enforceable in a court of law.
- Mutuality—In most circumstances, the mere fact that the parties are willing to mediate means that they are ready to "move" their position. The parties thus are more amenable to understanding the other party's side and work on underlying issues to the dispute.
- Support—Mediators are trained in working with difficult situations. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and guides the parties through the process. The mediator helps the parties think "outside of the box" for possible solutions to the dispute.
- Skill—Greenberg & Weinmann has settled hundreds of cases for many millions of dollars. It is critical to select only the most highly skilled mediators.