When weighing whether to use mediation as an alternative to trial, consider the potential benefits it can offers you and your clients.
Faster, More Predictable Settlements
Today’s court dockets are so congested it can take years to get a trial date, and in such time parties can become too weary to fight or too angry to be satisfied with any settlement. Mediation offers a faster resolution to disputes and lets people get on with their lives without the expense and anxiety of having a lawsuit over their heads.
Because all parties are involved in the negotiations, they gain a better sense of control over the outcome and are protected from the devastation of ugly surprises that often come with a formal legal judgment. Since everyone involved has a say in what, how and when decisions will be implemented, each party feels instrumental in the final agreement, creating a better chance of compliance than when a compulsory award is pronounced by a judge or jury.
Litigation can be associated with high payouts, but those seldom account for the considerable cost of attorney’s fees, expert witnesses, research, depositions and other expenses that can mount quickly, especially in protracted cases.
And then there is the immeasurable but equally draining emotional cost of being party to a lawsuit, which mediation can dramatically reduce.
In the vast majority of court cases, neither party gets exactly what they asked for, and if the final award is unexpected, it can be traumatic. Mediation avoids the perception of powerlessness that can come with a third-party judgment, often creating a more satisfying outcome for all involved. It limits feelings of victimization and bias, creating greater emotional contentment, even in cases where the financial result may be relatively modest.
When people are given a voice and decide their own fate, it can offer a feeling of empowerment that may be more rewarding than they obtain at trial.
More Hospitable Outcomes
Many disputes erupt between people involved in relationships that won’t end after the case is over, such as those between family members, former spouses who share parenting responsibilities, employer and employee and homeowner’s associations.
By steering parties away from a combat mindset and toward one of cooperation, mediation can help restore civility and optimism to relationships that may be irreparably damaged by a trial. When both parties feel as if their needs are being heard and accommodated, they have less reason to feel resentful and more reason to work amicably in the future dealings with each other.