About Mediation

The pursuit of a lawsuit can be costly. Using mediation may allow you to reach an agreement or settlement for a fraction of the cost and preserve the confidential nature of certain information. Basically, the role of a mediator is to bring organization and control to the process of communication and negotiations. The length of time it will take to resolve a dispute depends upon the number and complexity of issues involved. Some straightforward cases can be resolved in a half-day session. More complicated cases may require multiple days of mediation.

Stages of Mediation

Many people think that mediation is an informal process in which a friendly mediator chats with the disputants until they suddenly drop their hostilities and work together for the common good. It doesn’t work this way. Mediation is a multi-stage process designed to get results. It is less formal than a trial or arbitration, but there are distinct stages to the mediation process that account for the system’s high rate of success:

Stage 1: Mediator’s opening statement. After the disputants are seated at a table (or logged into a confidential virtual meeting room), the mediator introduces everyone, explains the goals and rules of the mediation, and encourages each side to work cooperatively toward a settlement.

Stage 2: Disputants’ opening statements. Each party is invited to describe the dispute and its consequences, financial and otherwise. The mediator might entertain general ideas about resolution, as well. While one person is speaking, the other is not allowed to interrupt.

Stage 3: Joint discussion. The mediator might encourage the parties to respond directly to the opening statements, depending on the participants’ receptivity, in an attempt to further define the issues.

Stage 4: Private caucuses. The private caucus is a chance for each party to meet privately with the mediator. Each side will be placed in a separate room. The mediator will go between the two rooms to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each position and to exchange offers. The mediator continues the exchange as needed during the time allowed. These private meetings comprise the guts of mediation.

Stage 5: Joint negotiation. After caucuses, the mediator might bring the parties back together to negotiate directly, but this is unusual. The mediator usually doesn’t bring the parties back together until a settlement is reached or the time allotted for the mediation ends.

Stage 6: Closure. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will likely put its main provisions in writing and ask each side to sign the written summary of the agreement. If the parties didn’t reach an agreement, the mediator will help the parties determine whether it would be fruitful to meet again later or continue negotiations by phone or internet.

Types of Problems Solved With Mediation

When disputes arise anyone involved can suggest solving the problem through mediation. It’s also common for courts to require some form of informal dispute resolution prior to litigation, and for a good reason—it works. Some examples of cases ripe for mediation include:

  • internal conflicts for businesses.
  • trust and estate administration.
  • breach of contract claims.


The willingness to participate in a cooperative dispute resolution process does not come easily when a business, personal or creative relationship ends. Often, the idea of cooperating with the person(s) who cause us pain is unthinkable. However, it is possible to build trust and create an acceptable resolution to the dispute. This survey is designed to test your motivation and readiness to mediate. Please be honest with yourself when completing it. Circle the number choice, between 1 and 5.  If your final score is 15 or less, you are most likely ready to mediate. Click here to take the survey.