If you are trying to resolve a legal dispute and negotiations have failed, you may need to turn to mediation as a solution. Unlike a judge or arbitrator who decides the winner and the loser in any given case, a mediator’s job is to help both parties reach a mutually beneficial resolution.
To achieve the goal of a reaching mutual agreement, mediation involves several steps.
As soon as both parties are together in a non-threatening setting, the mediator will give an opening statement. This sets the tone that the proceedings will follow, presenting the role of each participant in the process. If case data and briefs have been submitted beforehand, a mediator may take this opportunity to discuss the issue in some way.
The mediator will also outline guidelines so that each party is well aware of the rules while also setting the time frame for resolving the conflicts. If counsel are present, the mediator will likely request that they confer, but not speak for their clients. The parties should have the chance to communicate directly with the mediator and each other.
The Statement from Each Party
After the mediator makes introductory comments, it is time for each party to tell his or her side of the story without any interruptions. Usually, the person who requested the mediation session will be the first to speak. This does not have to be a list of the facts at hand. It can actually be an informal statement about the central issues. This may give the mediator a better idea of the emotional aspects of the case to begin to work towards resolutions for the problem.
Gathering Pertinent Information
Once each party has made a statement about his or her perspective on the issue, the mediator needs to gather more information through questioning. These questions could be about certain facts that help define the issues or they could be more of the open-ended variety so that the mediator gains an in-depth understanding of the case.
Bargaining to Reach an Agreement
Now that the mediator comprehends the problems in the case and has a deeper level of understanding of each party involved, the process of bargaining can begin. This can happen in any number of ways. The group can collectively come up with possible solutions or the mediator may throw out ideas that the parties may modify.
When the individuals on each side commit to a settlement through this process, a final agreement can be reached. By finding a solution that meets the needs of both parties through such open discussions, conflicts are not as intense and the likelihood of preserving future relationships increases.
However, if any animosity cannot be diffused, the mediator may choose to have private sessions with each party. This decision can help keep the negotiations moving forward. By taking this route, the mediator conducts what are called “caucuses.” He or she can then go back and forth between the two parties for a series of conversations, suggestions, and ideas that are designed to reach a resolution to the problems that are at the center of the conflict.
Contact a Mediator Today
If you would like to utilize the services of one of our experienced mediators, call our Phoenixville office at 610-933-8069 or our West Chester office at 610-692-1371 today.
Steve Lagoy is a partner in the Pennsylvania law firm of Unruh Turner Burke & Frees, PC with offices in West Chester, Malvern, and Phoenixville, PA. For more information on how Steve Lagoy could assist you as an independent mediator, contact Steve Lagoy
in our West Chester office.