By Jedidiah McKeehan
You may have heard of the legal term, “mediation.” What is it? What happens during a mediation?
A mediation is an informal process that is used in a large number of lawsuits to try to settle the cases before they go to trial. When a lawsuit has been filed, but before it reaches trial, the attorneys for the parties will typically discuss trying to resolve the case early. Sometimes the attorneys are able to have discussions between themselves and come to a resolution. However, often the case involves enough disputed issues that the parties will attend a mediation.
A mediation is conducted by a mediator. A mediator is someone who has specialized training in dispute resolution and is paid by both parties to act as a go between them in an attempt to get the parties to agree to a resolution. The mediator will do this by discussing strengths and weaknesses of each parties’ case, talking with each side about the pros and cons of going to trial, and what some of the benefits may be for resolving the case right then and there.
It’s important to note that a mediation does not take place at the courthouse, a mediation usually takes places at an attorney’s office. Also, if you are asked to participate in a mediation and you are worried about seeing the other party at the mediation, do not worry, normally you do not even see the other side during a mediation. It will just be you and your attorney in a conference room, and the mediator (who is almost always an attorney), will come in and meet and discuss issues with you, and then go to the other room. And the mediator will continue to go back and forth until an agreement is reached or they give up.
If an agreement is reached, the mediator will type up the agreement, and all parties and their attorneys will sign the agreement. And hopefully, this agreement will effectively end the lawsuit to which you were a party.
Keep in mind, you are not required to reach an agreement. If you are at a mediation and you feel the other side is being completely unreasonable, then you can get up and leave at any time.
Mediations are an important and effectively tool and a large percentage of cases are resolved at mediation. This is because the uncertainty of trial and the massive expense of preparing for trial while still having an unknown result is so risky. At a mediation, you may not get the exact result you want, but you are getting to decide what the final outcome of your case will be.