Mediation is a process that helps disputing parties find their own resolution to their legal disputes. Mediation can be less stressful than litigation, less expensive and often preserves the relationship between the parties involved. It is a great way to resolve conflicts in the workplace, home and among family members.
A mediation session normally begins with introductory remarks from the mediator and a statement of the problem by the parties. The mediator will then give the parties information about mediation including the issues to be addressed, the time allocation and confidentiality.
The mediator will then spend some time allowing each party to share their side of the story in a private setting. The mediator will usually ask open-ended questions to allow the participants to express their feelings and concerns. The mediator will try to reach out for common ground and will identify areas where the dispute may be resolved. The mediator will also encourage participants to consider a range of solutions to the problem and try to focus on finding ways that can help both sides.
Many mediators will then take the parties into separate meetings called caucuses with the mediator and each individual party or their counsel to discuss the issues. This allows the participants to elaborate on their position and mediate goals in confidence and to generate ideas for a settlement. This is often a more fruitful way of reaching a settlement as the participants are more likely to be flexible if they have not already made up their minds in advance about what they are willing to accept.