When you think about winning a lawsuit, it can play out like some scene from a famous movie. You might picture a long heated court battle with dramatic testimony and plot twisting admissions that climaxes with a nail-biting announcement by the jury of your victory in the case.
But in reality, most lawsuits are settled well before trial.
Given this fact, your legal toolbox needs to have a sharp and ready instrument that can get the job done: mediation. Why should you consider this form of alternative dispute resolution over the more traditional and familiar track of litigation? Here at Smiley Law, we frequently help clients answer this question and more.
“The True Objective of War is Peace” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Unlike the adversarial nature of litigation, mediation allows you to settle a dispute using a neutral, third-party called “a mediator.” The mediator’s goal is to bring you and the other party to an agreed upon settlement in an amicable and non-litigious manner. You should always consider mediation as a legal option because of the following benefits.
Cost -Unsurprisingly, the most important and determining factor for many of our clients is cost. We encourage our clients to consider that in addition to attorney bills, parties may need to cover the costs of court hearings, experts and trial. Even cases that end in settlement often already racked up hefty fees in the pre-trial discovery process. These are funds coming either directly out of your pocket or those that could have been directed to your future compensation.
Luckily, parties have more control over the costs associated with mediation. The only cost ordinarily associated with mediation is the mediator’s hourly rate, which is usually equally divided between the parties. As meditation generally only lasts a few days, this may result in significant savings.
Procedure – Litigation can be logistically challenging. For instance, when at court, your claim may drag on for months or even years, whereas in meditation, you and your adversary will determine the timing. Additionally, in litigation, most of the information submitted to the court will be incorporated into the public record, whereas in mediation, almost all information remains confidential. Furthermore, in litigation, a judge or jury will decide the ultimate solution to your claim, whereas in mediation, you and your adversary, in conjunction with your mediator, will have the opportunity to communicate and negotiate your terms. Remember – if mediation fails, you can always head to court later.
Relationship – Whereas litigation is an adversarial process, mediation is usually a peaceful and friendly one. Though some people excel in conflict, most find the litigation process rather stressful. Mediation can serve as a platform for dispute resolution that will avoid the hostile and adversary nature of litigation. In cases between family members, for example, damaging a healthy relationship can be socially and emotionally devastating. Additionally, many of our cases involve companies that may want to pursue future business opportunities together.
The Right Lawyer Can Make All the Difference in Mediation
Though mediation can reap many rewards, it may not be the right course for you for a variety of reasons. Mediation may not provide you with the ultimate result that you initially desired. Furthermore, great caution must be taken when picking a mediator. An unqualified or unreliable mediator can lead to disastrous results. On the treacherous road to recovery, consulting a law firm with the right experience is critical. Contact Smiley Law, a law firm that has experience with successful mediations for many clients through the years.