The popular sense of how the law works leads people to often believe it's all about suing others. Ask any attorney, though, and they'll tell you the smart move is usually to settle without suing. Lawyers do this by offering conflict mediation services. Let's look at what mediation services are and what you should expect.
What Does Mediation Mean?
A third party offers to act as the mediator between two or more parties. The mediator will try to synthesize the concerns of the parties by considering areas of common interest. Similarly, they will try to close the gap on issues where the sides aren't very far apart so everyone can focus on addressing and remedying the core disputes.
Notably, the mediator usually serves as an independent party to the process. They won't represent any parties' interests, even if the mediator is an attorney. Generally, parties prefer mediation services because hiring one person to conduct negotiations is usually more cost-effective.
Bear in mind, you can still hire a lawyer to represent your interests during mediation. Your attorney can work with you, the mediator, and the other sides' counsel to protect your rights throughout the process.
Binding Versus Non-Binding Mediation
If mediation is binding, then the parties to the matter agree to abide by the mediator's conclusions regardless. The parties must enter into a binding mediation agreement beforehand, though. Otherwise, anyone who objects to the proposed settlement can withdraw from the process and move forward with a suit.
Non-binding mediation has its virtues, though. Parties may be more comfortable with the process if they know they can pull the plug to protect their rights. Likewise, it allows them to think about the possibilities, and this will often encourage more creative solutions.
The goal of a conflict mediation services provider frequently is to produce a settlement. Ideally, the parties to the matter will agree in principle about what they should do. The mediator will then draft legal documents to shape a proposal. The sides can review the mediator's proposal and hammer out agreeable language. When they're ready to resolve the situation, they can sign off on final documents and start putting the mediated solutions into action.
Conflict from a Legal Perspective
People are conditioned to view conflict as inherently negative. However, parties can have conflicts for financial, practical, and legal reasons. Individuals and businesses can and do use conflict mediation services to iron things out with parties in a dispassionate and structured manner.