Of all the lawsuits that are filed in this country, a small percentage actually reach trial. The rest are dropped, dismissed by the court, or settled. A settlement means that no one wins and no one loses; the parties agree to a compromise in order to bring their dispute to an end.
Mediation isn’t the only way to settle a case. Even before hiring lawyers, people often resolve disagreements directly. A homeowner tells his neighbor that he plans to build a seven foot fence. The neighbor objects, they talk and they agree on six feet. Or the fence builder doesn’t tell his neighbor, he just builds the fence. He and the neighbors end up on the opposite sides of a lawsuit. At some point their lawyers negotiate and the case is settled without the involvement of a third party.
However, not all disputes can be settled by the parties directly, or by negotiation between their lawyers. Mediation offers another choice, one that can be used at any time – before the case is filed, while it is heading towards trial, or late in the day before everyone is sitting in the courtroom glaring at each other.
Confused between mediation and arbitration?
When is the best time to mediate?
What is there about mediation that makes it work?