I tried doing some unscientific research to find out what people are seeking from mediation. What I did was to use sitemeter, a tool for measuring web traffic, to identify some of the Google and other searches that led people to my site. I understand that my methodology will mainly turn up search queries that happen to coincide with subjects I am already addressing in this blog. But such a list of search queries may also reflect how well (or poorly) people understand the mediation process, and what they are hoping to get out of it. Here is a sampling of some terms people are searching for (all reported verbatim) that led them to my site:
-Am I more likely to win money in mediation than a lawsuit?
-Is it good that the other side wants a mediation?
-won mediation case still do have my money
-Do you think that alternative dispute resolution is more effective than trial?
I don't see many queries in which the topic of mediation is tied to the goals of peace or reconciliation, or making the world a better place. What I mainly see are people trying to find out whether mediation will advance their interests and protect their rights, which are perfectly legitimate concerns, but do not necessarily encompass all of the potential benefits of the mediation process.
And here is another unscientific survey of reality show contestants, illustrating similar self-centered and adversarial attitudes:
Remember that only one contestant generally emerges the winner in these shows, which means that if the only goal is winning, the vast majority of these people return home defeated and empty. After watching this amusing but disheartening video (and another one here), I wonder what happens to those few contestants who approach these competitions in a different spirit, those who might say: "As much as winning is important to me, I also care about the value of the experience and the quality of relationships I pick up along the way." I'd like to think that such people stand a better chance of winning, in every sense of the word. It also occurred to me that it might be interesting to design a reality show that rewards cooperation and negotiation, or that results in "win-win" outcomes. Would anyone watch such a show?
(by the way, the answers to the above questions are yes, it depends, listen, why?, yes for arbitration but no for mediation, sometimes, no, maybe, yes, I don't know, and yes)
Joseph C. Markowitz has over 30 years of experience as a business trial lawyer. He has represented clients ranging from individuals and small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations. He started practicing with a boutique litigation firm in New York City, then was a partner in a large international firm both in New York then in Los Angeles, then returned to practicing with a small firm and on his own. In addition to general commercial litigation, Mr. Markowitz has expertise in intellectual property, employment law, entertainment law, real estate, and bankruptcy litigation. Mr. Markowitz has managed his own firm since 1994. Mr. Markowitz was trained as a mediator more than 15 years ago, and has conducted a substantial number of mediations as a member of the Mediation Panels in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the District Court and Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California, as well as private mediations. He has served since 2010 as a board member of the Southern California Mediation Association.