Mediation Offers Road to Principled Negotiation

Courts are often seen by participants as the place where they will resolve their “case or controversy.” Indeed, those very words appear in Article III of the U.S. Constitution as the basis for the judicial power of the United States. However, in many circumstances parties cannot go to the courts but are required to arbitrate in some other forum. This is because of the nature of their claim, binding laws and/or regulations providing for arbitration, or contracts into which they have entered giving up their rights to go to court. However, in virtually all cases, parties can still resolve their cases though principled negotiation. The process of mediation offers the way to achieve this. Mediation is often the most efficient, lowest cost, and overall all best way to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

The Benefits of Mediation

Reaching a settlement through mediation offers many advantages to a litigated outcome, either in a court or before arbitrators. First, mediation brings about a prompt and more affordable result. A case can take many months to be heard before a court or arbitrator and costs will continue to rise through the process, whereas mediation can be handled at any stage of the case.

Furthermore, mediation provides certainty. You decide whether to settle your case; no third party — i.e. judge, jury, or arbitrator — can take it out of your hands. Third, mediation avoids precedent-setting issues for both sides and can be private if the parties wish to keep the terms confidential. Mediation can also be forward-looking in setting parameters for those parties who might be working together in the future.

Choosing a Good Mediator is Vital

While the parties and their lawyers may occasionally reach an accord on their own, the fact remains that, in many cases, a neutral mediator is needed to facilitate the process. The mediator can lead the discussion and help participants generate options without promoting particular options or “packages.” A good mediator controls the process but not the outcome. He or she provides opportunities for each side to “be heard” and understand opposing positions.

Throughout the mediation process, a party should not feel as if they are being attacked by an opponent, even when they see the case very differently. In addition, when the parties agree, the mediator can clarify the terms of the settlement in writing so that there is no misunderstanding. Parties are more likely to abide by the terms of the settlement when they have actively participated in the process and fully understand the terms of the result.

We’re Here to Help

Attorney Joseph H. Spiegel’s experience in working with Ann Arbor litigants and fellow lawyers is invaluable in his mediation procedures. He understands that there are a variety of factors that affect each case. Some parties are generally risk averse; some wish to avoid a precedent; some find it emotionally difficult to pursue an action; some are able to pay a settlement but only over time; some know the case is in a changing area of law. These factors and others can all be explored confidentially and neutrally in mediation. By focusing on the interests of the parties and the aspects of the case, a satisfactory settlement can often be fashioned to the benefit of all participants. To further discuss mediation or to learn more, call Joseph H. Spiegel PLLC at (734) 761-8475.