Many of my cases are now being resolved in a mediation, rather than court.
There are many reasons that people want to avoid court, including:
• Arbitrary nature of some jurors
• Unpredictability of a judge’s rulings on key issues
• Cost of expert witnesses
• Appeals by one side or the other
Due to these factors, there is a fast-growing trend to avoid court. These forms are known appropriately as “alternative dispute resolution.”
Arbitration is the most well known, but is fairly rare in local civil cases. In arbitration, a judge or lawyer will simply conduct a mini-trial more informally and render a decision. It is especially good for disputes that are complex and where the arbitrator has special knowledge, such as complex union disputes. It is also secret. It is usually a final decision and is almost never appealable.
Mediation is much more common and very helpful. In mediation, the parties informally meet with a mediator, who is usually a retire judge or experienced lawyer. I believe in the process so strongly, I became certified by the Tennessee Supreme Court to serve as a mediator years ago. Like arbitration, it is secret. And, there should be nothing to appeal in any event, because of the main point of mediation. No result is final until everyone agrees to it.
This is far different from a jury decision. In fact, you as a party are actually deliberating what a juror might do on both sides of the dispute. This helps to attain a result that both side agree to and end the dispute amicably. You may find it interesting that mediations actually are suggested in Matthew 18.
Mediations can help in small cases or very large one. I may see a mediator with a car accident case that settles for $25,000, and see the same mediator the next week with a $500,000 medical malpractice or nursing home case.
More and more judges require mediations today. Also, all Tennessee worker compensation cases must be mediated before filing suit. This also is consistent with Proverbs 25:8.
If you are ever asked to go to mediation, these tips may help you be calm and prepared:
• There will never be a result that you do not agree to.
• Mediation is informal and you will usually not be questioned.
• The Mediator often gives you opinions, but cannot order anything.
• Your attorney will always be with you.
• The parties usually split up into two different rooms.
• Mediation is much cheaper, faster and less stressful than court.