Mediation: What, Why, and How
Mediation is the most cost-effective, time-saving, and efficient way to resolve many types of disputes whether or not a complaint is filed in court. Mediation is a process where two or more parties come together with a mediator to negotiate to get to a better outcome. A mediator is an impartial third party who will facilitate the negotiation to help parties settle their dispute and enter into a binding settlement agreement.
The mediators at the Mediation Center of Los Angeles (MCLA) have been carefully selected and meet the highest standards for mediating civil cases. They have at least 10 years of good standing with the State Bar of California and have practiced various specialized areas of law over long and varied careers. All mediators have extensive training in mediation and experience mediating litigated cases. They have committed to act with the highest ethical standards of the mediation profession and to serve as neutrals with no conflict of interest. They also satisfy continuing education for mediators. If you’d like to read more about the mediators at our center, click here (Mediator Panel).
Why Choose Mediation?
Mediations are voluntary, which means that both parties must agree to mediate. Even though mediation is voluntary, most attorneys and their clients choose it as the best avenue to resolve their conflicts. Here are some reasons why mediation is so popular:
- Faster – Mediations have become a preferred way of resolving disputes in today”s pandemic environment because of the substantial backlog in cases that have been pending and cannot be tried for months or years. Mediation can significantly shorten the length of your dispute and can take as little as a couple weeks.
- Less Expensive – Mediation can save parties substantial expenses of legal fees and court costs by resolving the dispute as early as possible. The Mediation Center of Los Angeles is dedicated to providing low cost meditations for all civil cases filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court. We have the highest quality mediators who have agreed to offer their mediations at a significantly discounted rate through the mediation center. For information on pricing refer here (Pricing).
- Confidential Process – Mediations are confidential meetings compared to court proceedings, which are public. Confidential means that information or documents shared in a mediation cannot be used as evidence in any later court proceeding or other hearings.
- Positive and Professional – The mediators are all trained to create a safe, respectful, and peaceful environment. The process of mediation is designed to be non-adversarial and collaborative.
- Informal and Flexible – Mediations can conform to your schedule rather than you conforming to the schedule of the court. In addition, at present all mediations are conducted online using Zoom and can be done from the comfort of your home or office on your mobile phone, IPad or computer. (You do not need to waste time traveling to the mediator’s office.) MCLA is the only organization that has a contract with the Los Angeles Superior Court authorizing online mediations. All MCLA mediators have been trained and certified to use Zoom safely and securely. The mediator creates separate confidential rooms where attorneys can meet with their clients without being seen or heard by the other party. The mediator can then join each side in a confidential discussion about offers and demands which can be exchanged with the other side. The mediator can also make a proposal for settlement which the parties can accept or reject.
- No RIsk to Try – Even if you choose not to settle your dispute during the mediation, you are no worse off than before. If you do not settle, you can proceed to try your case in court and mediation will not affect the court proceedings. In fact, even if you do not settle, going to mediation can often help parties understand their case and situation better, which may help them settle before trial or improve their outcome in court.
Do I need an attorney to mediate? There is no requirement that you have an attorney to participate in a mediation, although it is recommended that you consult an attorney about your case before the mediation.
The Process of Mediation
What does the process of mediation look like? Here is a quick overview:
- File your case with MCLA – Once both parties agree to mediate, fill out the form on the MCLA website with the information about your case. You and the other party will be given a choice of mediators you prefer. The online form is here (Submit Case). There is no charge for submitting your case and there is no obligation should you or the other party change your mind.
- Schedule a Mediation Date – Once you have chosen an available mediator, you can set up a time that works for both parties and the mediator and the fees become due and payable in advance of the mediation hearing
- Prepare – Prepare a short memorandum to give to the mediator about the facts and applicable law as well as your perspective about how you want to settle the case. Keep an open mind, listen to the arguments of the other side and consider a strategy for making reasonable concessions. Preparation will make the mediation more productive, efficient, and will increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
- Mediate – During the mediation, the mediator may speak to both parties in a joint session or may talk to each party separately. The mediator will listen to both parties and will exchange information offered by each side. The mediator will evaluate the proposals, discuss options, and make suggestions about how to settle the dispute The mediator will help with negotiations to ensure that the outcome is agreeable to both parties.
- Agreement – The purpose of the mediation is to reach an agreement to end the dispute. However, you are not obligated to settle the dispute and the mediator cannot impose the outcome on the parties like a judge or arbitrator. If the parties do reach an agreement, the mediator can assist the parties to prepare either a non-binding memorandum of understanding or a final binding settlement agreement which must be signed by the parties. The agreement may be submitted to court either for approval by a judge or it may be a binding confidential agreement that does not require court approval.
Visit the Mediation Center of Los Angeles’ website at www.mediationla.org to submit your case and start the path to a better outcome!
If you have any questions, feel free to let us know here (Contact Us)