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Benefits of Mediation

People in disputes who are considering using mediation as a way to resolve their differences often want to know what the process offers. While mediation can not guarantee specific results, there are trends that are characteristic of mediation. Below is a list of some of the benefits of mediation, broadly considered. Mediation generally produces or promotes:

Economical Decisions

Mediation is generally less expensive when contrasted to the expense of litigation or other forms of fighting. (Pearson and Thoennes, 1984; McIssac, 1981; Kelly, 1991)

Rapid Settlements

In an era when it may take as long as a year to get a court date, and multiple years if a case is appealed, the mediation alternative often provides a more timely way of resolving disputes. When parties want to get on with business or their lives, mediation may be desirable as a means of producing rapid results.

Mutually Satisfactory Outcomes

Parties are generally more satisfied with solutions that have been mutually agreed upon, as opposed to solutions that are imposed by a third party decision-maker. (Rochl and Cook, 1985; Pearson and Thoennes, 1985; Brett and Goldberg, 1984; Kelly, 1991)

High Rate of Compliance

Parties who have reached their own agreement in mediation are also generally more likely to follow through and comply with its terms than those whose resolution has been imposed by a third party decision-maker. (Rochl and Cook, 1985; Pearson and Thoennes, 1984; McEwen and Maiman, 1981; Bingham, 1986; Kelly, 1991)

Comprehensive and Customized Agreements

Mediated settlements are able to address both legal and extra-legal issues. Mediated agreements often cover procedural and psychological issues that are not necessarily susceptible to legal determination. The parties can tailor their settlement to their particular situation.

Greater Degree of Control and Predictability of Outcome

Parties who negotiate their own settlements have more control over the outcome of their dispute. Gains and losses are more predictable in a mediated settlement than they would be if a case is arbitrated or adjudicated.

Personal Empowerment

People who negotiate their own settlements often feel more powerful than those who use surrogate advocates, such as lawyers, to represent them. Mediation negotiations can provide a forum for learning about and exercising personal power or influence (Cook, Rochl and Shepard, 1980).

Preservation of an Ongoing Relationship or Termination of a Relationship in a More Amicable Way

Many disputes occur in the context of relationships that will continue over future years. A mediated settlement that addresses all parties' interests can often preserve a working relationship in ways that would not be possible in a win/lose decision-making procedure. Mediation can also make the termination of a relationship more amicable.

Workable and Implementable Decisions

Parties who mediate their differences are able to attend to the fine details of implementation. Negotiated or mediated agreements can include specially tailored procedures for how the decisions will be carried out. This fact often enhances the likelihood that parties will actually comply with the terms of the settlement.

Agreements that are Better than Simple Compromises or Win/Lose Outcomes 

Interest-based mediated negotiations can result in settlements that are more satisfactory to all parties than simple compromise decisions.

Decisions that Hold Up Over Time

Mediated settlements tend to hold up over time, and if a later dispute results, the parties are more likely to utilize a cooperative forum of problem-solving to resolve their differences than to pursue an adversarial approach (Pearson and Thoennes, 1984; Margolin, 1973; Bingham, 1986).  


Bingham, G.: Resolving Environmental Disputes: A Decade of Experience. Washington, D.C.: Conservation Foundation, 1986.

Bret, J. M., and Goldberg, S. B. Mediator Advisors: A New Third Party Role. In M. H. Bazerman and R. J. Lewicki (Eds) Negotiating in Organizations. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1983

Cook, J., Rochl, J., and Shepard D.: Executive Summary Final Report. Washington, D.C.: Neighborhood Justice Field Institute, U.S. Department of Justice, 1980.

Davis, R., M. Tichane and D. Grayson, Mediation and Arbitration as Alternatives to Prosecution in Felony Arrest Cases: An Evaluation of the Brooklyn Dispute Resolution Center. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 1980.

Divorce: Short Term Counseling. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. United States International University, 1973.

McEwen, C. E., and R. J. Maiman, Small Claims Mediation in Maine: An Empirical Assessment. Maine Law Review, 33, 1981, p. 237-268.

McIsaac, H. Mandatory Conciliation Custody/Visitation Matters: California's Bold Stroke. Conciliation Courts Review, 19, 1981, p. 75-81.

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