How does Mediation work?

 You are involved in a dispute that you and the other party (person or business) are not able to resolve. Here is a general description of the steps involved in reaching a mediated resolution. 

Before the Mediation

  •  You contact me and briefly describe the nature of the dispute, and we discuss how mediation would work.
  • You or I contact the other party to explain that mediation is an option to consider, and I call them to explain how it would work.
  • If you and/or the other party are represented by an attorney, I call the attorney to discuss mediation. You can continue to be advised by your attorney throughout the mediation process.
  • I provide both parties a letter that explains:
    • The benefits of mediation
    • What both of you would need to commit to (ground rules)
    • The mediator’s role (not a legal advocate for either party; strictly neutral in facilitating an agreement controlled by the parties)
    • The statutory and contractual provisions that protect the confidentiality of all information disclosed by the parties in mediation (may not be used against either of you in any eventual litigation)
    • The fact that reaching a resolution is strictly voluntary but that the parties can choose to make it the basis of a legally binding and enforceable agreement
    • The role of the parties’ attorneys, if any
    • Fees and costs
  • Both parties sign an agreement to go to mediation that also allocates the costs of mediation.
  • We choose a time and place for the mediation convenient for all of us.

The Day of the Mediation

  •  I summarize the ground rules, and both parties agree to respect them.
  • Each of you has the opportunity to explain the dispute from your own point of view.
  • I ask questions and guide a discussion aimed at understanding each party’s underlying interests (not just your explicit positions and demands).
  • If needed and helpful, I caucus (talk separately and privately) with each of you during the mediation.
  • We narrow in on possible resolutions that would satisfy each party’s most important interests.
  • We craft a voluntary agreement that represents compromise but also provides a resolution of the dispute that is acceptable to both of you.
  • We create a written agreement (which can be legally enforceable if you both so agree).

After a Successful Mediation

  • I will translate the parties’ agreement into a more formal document, which each party may have his or her legal advisor review.
  • You move on with life. You avoid the emotional and financial stress and depletion of litigation, which can take years. You eliminate the toll of an unresolved dispute. You have either mitigated the damage to relationships or appropriately terminated a relationship.

 "In 85 to 90% of cases, both sides are economically and
emotionally hemorrhaging themselves by going to trial."
– Orange County Superior Court Judge William M. Monroe,
quoted in the LA Times 3-27-11.