What is it? Does it work for me?

When there is a legal dispute, the first thing people think of is having a judge decide on who is right and who is wrong. This involves a process where the conflict eventually ends up in a court room.

Hollywood has convinced us to think that it takes less than 3 hours from start to finish by the time a judge makes a decision. In real life, disputes that rely on the traditional trial system can take years to resolve, and hundreds of dollars in legal fees.

There are other alternative ways to resolve a dispute – the three most common are negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Often times, though, in my opinion, not enough times, one or more enough of these methods are used concurrently when a file is moving through the court-litigation process.

Often times, using one or of more of these “ADR” methods will result in a resolution that can be more effective, efficient, and thereby more cost-economical and in the better interests of all parties.


In search of: a great listener, a compassionate communicator, who will, without bias and self-interest, build the bridge for disputing parties to meet and happily agree to move forward. Well, aren't we all…..

We can all admit – sometimes we just need a little help. A mediator is a trained neutral communication facilitator who assists in the negotiations between parties in conflict. The mediator helps the parties find a solution, which often times, is actually crafted by the parties themselves, to result in a win-win situation. You might think, if the parties can't find the solution by themselves, how does this external person help?

Mediators are more than just communicators. They listen with a different point of view and can identify deeply rooted positions that sometimes even the parties themselves don't realize are the reason why the dispute even started. Those subconsciously held views can surface in ways only a skilled mediator can elicit through listening to listen (as opposes to listening to respond – which is what litigation lawyers and parties entrenched in their position do instinctively).

There are a variety of methodologies employed by mediators, and we are trained to know when and which ones to employ for various categories of disputes. Sometimes the methodology changes over the course of the mediation and it is the mediator's goal to ensure the parties retain control over the resolution process, rather than giving up that control to a judge. That control the parties feel is a strong and significant emotional and psychological component, one which the parties involuntarily give up if the dispute is to be decided in court.

Mediation can also result in all sorts of creative outcomes that are beyond the realm of what a judge can order. We will discuss what those outcomes could look like in another series dedication to mediation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.