Sometimes, going to court is the best or only option to resolve a claim or a dispute. But taking a case to court is expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. In appropriate cases, I encourage parties to consider mediating before a court action is filed.
What is mediation?
In mediation, parties design their own solution to a problem or dispute, instead of putting it into the hands of a judge or jury. Mediation is a process that empowers people to resolve their disputes in a safe, neutral, and confidential setting. It is generally far less expensive than litigation and can help preserve relationships and foster greater understanding.
Mediation usually consists of one or more meetings where the parties explain their concerns and state their needs and preferred outcomes. The mediator is trained to help the parties articulate their view of the situation and to help them agree on a solution that works for all concerned.
The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong, or impose a solution. An attorney who is also a mediator may give legal information to the disputing parties, but does not give legal advice. Mediation is most effective when the parties can listen to each other's concerns and air their feelings and needs. New understandings often happen when this occurs. However, a mediation can be designed in any way that best meets the parties' needs.
Generally, a successful mediation results in a written agreement that includes all of the terms the parties agree on. The mediation agreement can be enforced by a court if necessary.
Is mediation right for you?
Practically anyone involved in a difficult conflict can be helped by mediation. Neighbors, family members, teachers, co-workers, business partners - these are just a few of the types of people who have been able to find solutions to conflicts through mediation.
How much does mediation cost?
The mediator generally charges by the hour for his or her time, and the hourly rate is comparable to what other local attorneys charge. Usually, the parties split the cost. The total cost depends on the complexity of the situation and the amount of time it takes to reach an agreement. However, mediation is a bargain compared with litigation, in which each party must pay its own attorney, and fees and court costs and can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Want more information?
The Law Office of Jane E. Bednar offers knowledgeable, high-quality legal representation to individuals and entities throughout the state of California. Services include mediation, litigation and counseling in the areas of personal injury, elder abuse, professional malpractice and fee disputes, trust and estate litigation, abusive mortgage practices, consumer fraud, contracts, business & real estate law, and defective construction.
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