Are you weary of trying to solve the pressing conflicts in your life through long drawn out legal battles?
Does the thought of a judge, or another person of authority, dictating the resolution of your problems, despite your desires, bother you?
Are you concerned about the prospects of paying lawyer’s fees ranging from $150 to $300 per hour for the many hours it takes to process a claim through the court system?
If you answered “no” to all of the above questions, do not read any further. However, if you want to regain control of your life, read on.
REGAIN CONTROL THROUGH DIRECT INVOLVEMENT
Mediation provides a method for people with disputes or conflicts to exercise their own choices and discretion and to regain a sense of control over their lives in resolving disputes. It is a means by which you can be an active participant in the decision making process and have direct involvement in the determination of your destiny. In the informal setting of mediation, the parties are given the opportunity to express their emotions and by searching for the identity of their true interests, to ease their emotional turmoil. Instead of having a decision forced upon the parties to a dispute, mediation provides the mechanism for the parties to craft their own decisions. Once a mutually acceptable agreement is reached, the parties breathe easier and are able to end the emotional turmoil that would continue to plague them for an unknown time into the future while awaiting resolve of their case through litigation.
Because of the voluntary nature of mediation, and the direct involvement of the parties at every step of the proceeding, the process is totally different from the established methods of resolving disputes through litigation. Contrasted with the formality of litigation, mediation is informal and encourages the open exchange of discussion between the parties. As opposed to the limited number of options available in litigation, mediation provides the ability for creative resolution of problems, molded to fit the particular needs of the parties. In addition to tailoring agreements to the particular circumstances of the parties, mediation remains, at all times, a confidential process, thus further fostering a restoration of prior good relationships.
THE RUSH TO THE COURTHOUSE – THE MINDSET OF OUR TIMES
As a lawyer who has specialized in civil litigation in the United States for over 35 years, I have personally witnessed the evolution of a mindset that propels people to the courthouse for every real or imagined wrong. As the rush to litigation has grown, the sphere of individual patience has diminished. Rather than attempting to calmly discuss each other’s feelings and determine the driving force behind the dispute, there is a rush to the lawyer’s office. By these comments, I do not mean to demean the valuable services provided by lawyers to their clients. Unfortunately, the lawyer sometimes gets caught up in the client’s insistence that the lawyer be his/her “mouthpiece”, including mimicking the emotions of the client. There then develops a point in the litigation process in which the process becomes self sustaining (a goal in and of itself), leaving little hope for early peaceful resolution.
ANALYZE THE GAMBLE IN LITIGATION
WHAT IS THE REAL RISK OF YOUR GAMBLE?
As is the case with people who gamble, most litigants believe that they have a strong likelihood of winning in court. It is interesting for the mediator to ask the parties, after listening to their prediction of the outcome they believe they are entitled to, if their attorneys are prepared to guarantee those outcomes. In the same vein, the parties need to ask themselves, if there are any guarantees that the result won’t be one-half or double, or one fourth or quadruple the expectations.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF THE GAMBLE?
The disputants need to factor in the amount it may cost to find out if they are right, and whether there is any assurance that such costs won’t be double or more. In mediation, the parties have better control of the costs, as they are involved in all steps of the process. They don’t have to suffer the orders of a court requiring their attorneys to spend valuable time and money submitting lengthy legal documents.
TIME NEEDED TO SEE IF THE GAMBLE WAS CORRECT
The parties need to get a realistic grip on how long it will take to find out if they were correct in their guess as to the outcome. The average litigation can take years. By contrast, most mediations can be completed in a matter of weeks or months.
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO ABDICATE CONTROL?
After dealing with all of those questions, if the litigation process continues, the parties have abdicated their control to a judge, over whom they have no control. Isn’t a negotiated settlement a better alternative?
PEACE AND HARMONY IS WITHIN OUR REACH
Given the above, does it not make more sense to take a step back and regain control of your life by a proven method of alternative dispute resolution – voluntary mediation? Mediation is the voluntary process where a neutral, impartial person, acceptable to all parties of a dispute, helps the parties to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to end their dispute. That means that the parties choose to participate by their own free will and freely reach a settlement of their dispute. Mediation is a part of the negotiation process, but is not the imposition on parties to a dispute of a 3rd party to make decisions for them. The goal of the mediator is to not only help the parties reconcile their present areas of controversy, but by identifying their interests, to look to the future and through an exchange of mutually acceptable promises that the parties feel meet their personal standards of fairness. In contrast, with litigation, in a mediation, all sides to the dispute have a greater opportunity to walk away as winners.
Through the confidential and voluntary process, you will take an active role in the control and resolution of your problems. An agreement reached will allow all parties to walk away with their heads held high, as winners – not just in the resolve of their problems, but in life. Peace and harmony is an attainable goal, at a financial and emotional cost which is far less than what will be spent in protracted litigation.
CMP Resolution Blog by Lesley Allport and Katherine Graham.A sacred cow of mediation is that it must be voluntary – and anything else is undermining the values of mediation and...By Katherine Graham