Phoenix Mediation Attorneys
In some cases, trial is an unnecessary step. Many opposing parties in employment, divorce and similar disputes are willing to come together outside of the courtroom and work out their differences through an ADR (alternative dispute resolution) proceeding. Our team at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb has the experience and expertise needed to help you address your conflict in a timely manner through mediation.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a private proceeding that gives two parties in a dispute the chance to work out their situation in the presence of a third party with a neutral stance. Mediation allows the two parties to come together to negotiate an amicable solution. Some individuals prefer mediation as a form of dispute resolution, while others are court-ordered to try the method.
When Mediation Works Well
Most mediation situations are purely voluntary. This works well in many different dispute situations that are not too serious (i.e., neither party is willing to negotiate or settle) but in which two parties are unwilling or unable to come to an agreement on their own. At Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb, we specialize in mediation for:
- Family law. For divorce disputes, parenting, child support, custody, property and other family law issues, mediation provides parties with a neutral location and a neutral party to help guide the process. It can facilitate a healthier interaction, particularly when sensitive issues need to be resolved coherently and peacefully. Mediation can help families come to appropriate settlements that might otherwise have led to further legal disputes and personal conflicts.
- Small business mediation. Small business disputes, including partnership disagreements, contract disputes and management disputes, can sometimes find an effective resolution in mediation, which saves all parties time and money. Our team has the mediation experience you can count on to help both parties reach an agreement that makes sense and prevents legal disagreements in the future.
- Employment mediation. Sometimes, employment issues arise more from miscommunication than from malicious intent. When both parties are willing to sit down and work towards a solution, mediation often provides an agreeable outcome that helps everyone involved reach a better understanding and resolution than emotionally charged litigation might yield.
The Mediation Process
During mediation proceedings, the two parties and the neutral representative agree to the terms of the mediation, deciding logistics and how the mediator will facilitate conversations. The mediator serves as someone who can provide facts, facilitate information exchanges and answer objective questions during the negotiation process. He or she can also help the parties find areas of agreement and solutions to tough predicaments. The mediator also plays an important role in facilitating a successful outcome. He or she may draft settlements and agreements that may be legally binding.
The mediation attorneys at Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb have made the practice part of our core service offering. If we believe mediation offers a better route to dispute resolution than a legal proceeding, we will help you arrange mediation and work with everyone involved to create a lasting agreement that satisfies all interests. As a neutral third party, you can count on us to keep the conversation moving in the right direction while letting both parties come to an agreement naturally.
Mediation vs. Arbitration
Arbitration is another common form of ADR, but it works very differently from mediation. While arbitration proceedings also take place in a private forum rather than a courtroom, they do not rely on the two parties in dispute to resolve the situation on their own terms. Instead, a single arbitrator or a tribunal will determine the outcome of the case.
If two parties cannot come to an agreement, arbitration allows an outside party to make a fair assessment of the situation and facilitate a settlement. The parties involved still have the freedom to dictate the course of the proceeding, but an impartial dispute resolution expert may play a more definitive role in the pursuit of a settlement.
The primary difference between arbitration and mediation is that during arbitration, the outcome of the proceeding is in the hands of an arbitrator. In mediation, the outcome is up to the two parties in dispute. Furthermore, mediation proceedings may only delay a trial, whereas arbitration fully replaces a trial.
What to Look for in a Mediator
Mediators and arbitrators do not have to be trained legal professionals. However, to create a legally binding outcome and to ensure your case is handled in a professional manner, we highly recommend you choose a trained mediator who has an understanding of the laws surrounding the case. Mediation does not always replace a trial, and knowing what your negotiation has truly accomplished, legally, can help you make more informed decisions.
Mediators are not necessarily attorneys who prefer private forums to the courtroom. Instead, they are attorneys who have a keen understanding of the law and who have a calming presence. Look for an attorney you can trust to provide impartiality through a soothing or comforting demeanor.
Bringing Outside Counsel
You may also have an attorney present in addition to a professional mediator to help you through the process, although it is not required. If you do secure an attorney’s representation for mediation proceedings, make sure he or she is familiar with mediation procedures. Many attorneys help clients prepare for mediation proceedings, but may not actually attend the session. After successful mediation, clients may also ask an attorney to review the agreement decided on before signing it.
Can Mediation Work for Complex Disputes?
The complexity of a dispute has no bearing on mediation proceedings. You are only limited by your willingness to negotiate and your mediator’s experience in the field. Some complex mediations may take longer to reach a successful conclusion than others, but most provide satisfactory outcomes for both parties involved.
Getting Ready for Mediation
You and the opposing party have likely decided to try mediation because you have not found a successful resolution working on your own. Mediation can often be helpful for individuals who do not want to take an issue to court but cannot let a situation go without some kind of resolution. If both parties are willing, mediation will likely produce an outcome that makes sense.
For mediation to work properly, the terms of the meeting (guided by the mediator) must create an atmosphere that allows both parties to get to the heart of the issues and negotiate a settlement or agreement from which they can move forward.
Mediation is not a trial. You are not there to present your case and prove something beyond reasonable doubt. You are there to come up with a solution. Your attorney in mediation will not behave in the same manner as he or she would in a case for litigation. The attorney acting as a neutral party will not rise to your defense or build a case for you to present during the session. Instead, he or she will encourage you to come into the meeting with an open mind, a willingness to understand and accept another’s point of view and faith in the process.
Most mediation proceedings are conducted without direct conversation. You and the other party will speak directly to a mediator who will ask questions and sometimes ask the other party to repeat what was said. The goal is for each party to truly hear the other and to get to the heart of the matter. Humans often have a hard time doing that when emotions and body language start to change the openness of the discussion. Mediation takes the “heat” out of the equation.
If it helps, think of mediation as a type of counseling session. The conversation slows down so that each person, tuned in to his or her own feelings and experiences, can look at the situation from a more objective standpoint. The result is an honest conversation that leads to understanding and progress.
Confidentiality and Mediation
Mediation is not automatically a confidential proceeding. If you wish to keep the contents of the session private, it needs to be included in the agreement beforehand. You do not have to keep a session confidential, but doing so may change the level of honesty or prevent another party from agreeing to mediation in the first place. Alternatively, you can choose certain individuals to be privy to the contents of the mediation session. The logistics and confidentiality arrangement is totally up to the individuals agreeing to the terms.
Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb – Strong Mediation for 30 Years
If you are looking for a qualified family, employment or small business mediator to help you get through a difficult time, our team in Phoenix is ready to help. We have the skills needed to help two parties reach a meaningful resolution in the face of dispute.
Whether you need an attorney to help you prepare for mediation proceedings or you need a mediator with experience in Phoenix, our team is ready to help you secure a successful outcome in your dispute. For more information about our mediation services, contact our Phoenix office today.