Mediation is a process where parties solve their problems with the help of a mediator–a person with special training, skills and knowledge who facilitates discussion among them. It is vastly different than arbitration and trial, which involve submitting the dispute to an arbitrator, judge or jury to make a binding decision for one side or the other. Trial decisions are also subject to appeal, potentially lengthening the conflict by several years. Mediation, in contrast, is a facilitative process. The mediator does not impose a decision, but instead uses various techniques to aid the parties in negotiating their own resolution.
Mediation offers significant benefits. Litigation and arbitration result in strictly limited decisions designed to address only the parties’ legal claims (typically after a lengthy and expensive process.) Through mediation, however, the parties have considerable flexibility, allowing for creative solutions that go beyond what a judge or arbitrator could ever do.
Typically the mediation process occurs over the course of just one day, or part of a day. The parties and their representatives will appear in person at a mutually agreed upon location. They may have the opportunity to speak directly to one another, but are generally separated, with the mediator serving as the point of contact.
The mediation process is confidential. What you say during the mediation process cannot and will not be used against you. One reason mediation works so well is because parties can be completely candid without fear that their statements will become evidence at trial (or that the mediator will someday become a witness).
A settlement built by the parties is far better than one imposed on them. By spending their time to work with the mediator to construct a solution, the parties have an investment in the ultimate resolution of their dispute. In appropriate cases, mediation presents an opportunity to maintain or rebuild the relationship between parties who happened to fall out in a particular instance.
Although the vast majority of lawsuits and arbitrations eventually settle, mediated cases tend to resolve more efficiently and with less expense. An additional benefit is that by ending the conflict, the parties can get back to their lives and businesses, eliminating the looming specter of the dispute.
Many Washington State and Federal courts require that mediation take place sometime before trial. But the costs of litigation are ever increasing. With expensive electronic discovery (e-discovery), multiple experts, medical evaluations, attorney fees, etc. taking a lawsuit to trial can often cost more than the value of the claim. Mediation at an early stage in the dispute is becoming more attractive as a way to significantly reduce overall costs, and avoid the inherent risks of trial. Early mediation can serve as a method for both parties to maximize their ultimate outcome, through a combination of avoiding the high costs of litigation and obtaining the security of a mutually negotiated settlement.
Rosen Resolution, PLLC is in the same complex as Jason’s former law firm, Christie Law Group, and its office/conference space is available as a neutral site for any mediation. Jason is a certified rule 39.1 neutral for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program.
In addition to the above, Jason is available to help create customized mediation scenarios and fee schedules based upon the parties desires and/or needs (i.e. “express” mediation, mediation over multiple sessions, via phone, FaceTime, etc., or reduced/waived fees.) Contact Jason to discuss available options.