An important aspect of mediation is that all parties are interested in avoiding litigation while still seeking some type of resolution to the issues at hand. Equally as important to note, however, is that “mediators cannot enforce a final resolution. They are just there to help come up with a solution,” says Smith.
More simply put, mediation results “cannot be put into a contract,” he says.
What to look for in a mediator
Before hiring a mediator, it is wise to consider various factors to determine if that professional is right for the conflict at hand. According to Smith, matters to consider include the mediator’s:
- Track record for dealing with the matters in dispute. Be sure the mediator understands the legalities of the issues at hand.
- Demonstrated ability to actually mediate business issues
- Reputation for impartiality
Pros and cons of mediation
Just like with anything in life, there are positives and drawbacks of mediating a dispute.
- Proceedings are private and can usually be conducted in secret
- Mediation is usually quicker than other methods of dispute resolution
- Cost savings
- All parties to the dispute are given the opportunity to be creative with resolving matters at hand without the necessity of following the constrictions of law.
In addition, if a party to mediation does not do their homework, “you may end up with an inexperienced mediator which could lead to no resolution or a prolonged dispute. Sometimes, that can even heighten a dispute,” he says.
Another important consideration is mediation is a pre-litigation option. According to Smith, “Mediation is out the window once litigation is filed.”
Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer who tweets as @girlwithapen. She is the Chair of the Marketing Committee of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.