Frequently Asked Questions
- What is mediation?
- How does mediation work?
- How long does a mediation session take?
- Should I have a lawyer represent me at the mediation?
- How should I prepare for the mediation session?
- How much does a mediation cost and who pays for it?
What is mediation?
Mediation is a means of managing and resolving disputes privately. The parties themselves work toward a voluntary agreement rather than having a judge or arbitrator decide the issues for them. The role of the mediator is not to decide or to force a compromise, but to assist the parties in communicating their needs and interests and to help them envision workable solutions as well as guidelines for managing future conflict in the relationship. Mediation, unlike litigation, is private and confidential.
How does mediation work?
Mediation works through a process of facilitating communication of interests and needs, reframing the conflict, and helping the parties negotiate and reach agreement. Apart from helping the parties realistically assess the consequences of not reaching agreement, mediation is not evaluative: there will be no determination of who is right and who is wrong.
The mediation usually begins in joint session around a conference table with everyone in attendance. Depending on the nature of the issues in dispute, the ability of the parties to communicate directly with each other, and the parties’ need for assistance in thinking through possible outcomes, the session may break out into private conversations between the mediator and each party separately before reconvening in joint session.
If the parties succeed in reaching agreement, the mediator will commit the terms of the agreement to writing.
How long does a mediation session take?
It varies. Some disputes can be resolved in a matter of an hour or two. Some require multiple sessions as the parties investigate the feasibility of possible solutions. Typically, parties block out a half-day or full-day session.
Should I have a lawyer represent me at the mediation?
It is not necessary. If you have already engaged a lawyer, he or she is welcome to attend and participate. My practice is to have the parties themselves, to the extent they can, speak for themselves and directly to each other.
How should I prepare for the mediation session?
Preparation depends on the nature of the dispute. It can be helpful to gather your thoughts as well as any documentation so that you are able to describe clearly both the situation and what you need. The best preparation is to think about answers to the questions: What, in an ideal world, would you like to achieve? What, in the real world, can you live with? What is likely to happen if you do not reach agreement? I recommend that you give these questions careful thought in advance, but come to the session open-minded, prepared to listen and to consider different possible answers.
How much does a mediation cost and who pays for it?
Mediation is far less costly than either court litigation or arbitration – or moving! The fee depends on the time spent and the parties’ ability to pay. Initially, the parties agree to split the fee, but may negotiate a different allocation during the session. In some cases, a third party such as a property manager may pay for the mediation. For more information, see the Fees page.