When people think of hiring a lawyer to resolve a dispute, they often have in mind that their problem will ultimately be resolved at a trial with a judge ruling in favour of one party and against another. This understanding, perhaps reinforced through television and movies, does not represent the reality. In fact, most lawsuits settle.
We assist parties in disputes by providing independent, unaffiliated persons to assist them to reach a resolution. This may be achieved through two different paths. Arbitration proceedings are generally adversarial in nature and the arbitrator makes a final decision, just as a judge does, but outside the court system. A private mediator assists the parties in reaching settlements through consensus and does not impose a decision.
The members of our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) group, although skilled as counsel, are available to assist you by being the neutral third party in binding arbitration proceedings or in mediation sessions.
Traditionally, parties in dispute have resorted to the court system to resolve their disputes, going to trial if they do not reach settlement on their own. Court decisions generally involve one side winning and the other losing, what some have referred to as a “zero-sum game.” Using mediation to resolve disputes allows all parties to win, as the terms of settlement are generally limited only by the parties’ imagination.
Mediation is a voluntary process whereby the parties, assisted by their counsel if they want, meet with an independent mediator whose job is to assist the parties in reaching settlement.
The parties may meet all together with the mediator and/or separately. It is generally agreed by the parties and the mediator that the mediation sessions are to be entirely confidential in nature so that anything said at the mediation may not be repeated elsewhere. This allows the parties to explore settlement possibilities without worrying that what they say may be used against them. They may bring into the settlement discussions matters that would not be relevant in the lawsuit.
The result? Parties can make settlements that are far more satisfying and, therefore, lasting than results the courts might impose. A well-trained and experienced mediator can assist you in getting those results.
Mediation, especially if started soon after it is clear that a dispute has arisen, is an efficient, cost-effective way to get to a resolution — with absolute confidentiality. We are here to help you resolve your dispute in the most expeditious manner possible.