Mediation Lawyer San Francisco / Bay Area California
Mediation is a form of a dispute resolution. The mediator is usually a retired judge or an experienced attorney who is neutral in the dispute, and is paid by the parties to attempt to resolve their dispute. Mediation can take place before or during court litigation or arbitration, and oftentimes the judge or arbitrator strongly recommends that the parties engaged in litigation mediate before going to trial/arbitration hearing. Everything that is said and shown at the mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court against either party. The goal of the mediation is to have the parties voluntarily agree to settle their dispute. The mediator does not have the power to determine who is right or wrong or to force the parties to do anything, but once the parties agree to settle the case the terms of the settlement are binding.
In a sense, when people mediate they have everything to gain and nothing to lose except the time and money invested in the mediation. More often than not, the skill of the mediator, the seriousness of the proceedings, and ideas generated by the parties lead to a resolution of the dispute. It is not required that parties to mediation have an attorney present; however, it is very advisable to have an experienced attorney to represent you in order to achieve the best result possible. Even though the mediation process is informal, there are some steps in this process that all mediators like to follow.
Introductory Remarks: Before starting the mediation, the mediator will try to create a comfortable environment for the parties and make an opening statement in front of all of the parties and their attorneys. The opening statement typically outlines the role of the participants and demonstrating the mediator’s neutrality. Some mediators will make comments about what they see as the issue and confirm the case data if briefs have been submitted prior to the mediation. Next, the mediator will define protocol and set the time frame for the process. The opening statement during the introductory remarks will set out the ground rules for the mediation.
Statement of the Problem by the Parties: After the opening statement, the mediator will give each side the opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted. Most often, the plaintiff will go first. The statement is not necessarily a recital of the facts, but it is to give the parties an opportunity to give the mediator and the opposing party more information on the emotional state of each party. If there are lawyers present who make the initial statement, the mediator will sometimes ask the clients to offer some brief remarks. The general goal is to remain non-confrontational and avoid aggravating the already tense situation between the parties.
“Shuttle Diplomacy”: Once the introductory statements are concluded, the parties separate by going into difference conference rooms, and the mediator starts to shuttle back and forth between them. When in private with each party and their attorneys, the mediator will start by asking the parties open-ended questions to get to the emotional undercurrents and to build rapport between the parties. As the mediator shuffles back and fort, he or she will also identify the most contentious issues, estimate the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case, and see if any of the less contentious issues can be resolved first.
Reaching an Agreement: At some point in the mediation the focus will shift from evaluating and analyzing the case to pure bargaining mode where the mediator brings offers and counteroffers to each party in an attempt to bridge the differences between them. If the mediation is successful, the case settles and the parties put their settlement agreement in writing. This settlement agreement is binding on the parties, and the dispute is suspended and eventually dismissed once both sides fulfill their promises. If the mediation fails, what was said at mediation, the information exchanged, and the offers made by either party stay confidential. The mediator will typically follows up periodically with the parties after the mediation concludes to see if they are ready to settle, and cases that are not resolved at mediation will often settle later thanks to the progress made at mediation and the availability of a neutral party to keep communication open.
The advantages of mediation are that the process can solve many disputes in a short time (most mediation sessions are only one or at most two days long), mediation is less expensively than litigation, mediation allows the parties to deal directly with each other in a safe and structured environment, and any agreement can be reduced to writing and signed before someone changes their mind. The disadvantages of mediation is that it is not binding and relies on the parties’ good will and reasonableness to reach an agreement. If one or more parties is unreasonable and overly stubborn, the mediation process can be a frustrating and waste of time. A lot depends on the skill of the mediator because an unskilled or poorly trained mediator can be.
Mediation Attorney in San Francisco California
Here, at the Zurada Law Group, we have an extensive experience of representing individuals and businesses in the mediation process. Based on our inquiry and valuation of your individual situation, we will work out a personalized solution that meets your needs, help you find a suitable mediator, and get you the best outcome possible.
Our San Francisco Mediation lawyers represent clients throughout the California Bay Area. If you have any kind of questions or concerns regarding a claim filed against you or if you are interested in vindicating your rights by filing a claim, please give our California mediation attorneys a call at the number above or fill out our contact form. We would be honored to be your Bay Area mediation attorney of choice, and your first consultation with us is always FREE.