In my professional life I have seen conflict destroy once valued relationships, businesses, and as a former homicide prosecutor, lives. At the very least, letting disputes fester or drag out is unproductive, but more often it is destructive. As a veteran litigator of over 100 jury trials and thousands of non-jury trials, and as an arbitrator for hundreds of disputes, I understand the value of both litigation and arbitration. However, for most cases mediation provides a more efficient, cost-effective, and less risky process for dispute resolution and may, at the same time, preserve or rebuild important alliances. It follows that when the parties reach a settlement through mediation that satisfies their interests and reflects their own free will, there will be greater compliance with the result.
The role of the mediator is to create a meaningful, productive and positive dialogue so that progress toward a resolution is constantly being made. This involves learning about not just the dispute itself, but the background of parties, the nature of their relationship, and looking forward to explore what is possible. Such a process allows the mediator to work with the parties and their counsel to reach a result that puts the parties in a better place than they were prior to the mediation and perhaps an even better place than before the dispute arose. A mediator should encourage the parties to realistically assess the risks of litigation/arbitration and pinpoint their interests, thus allowing them to rethink their positions and put aside personal antagonisms that impede settlement. It is also possible to restore and rebuild relationships by identifying shared goals with their adversaries. In addition, mediators should attempt to clarify misunderstandings, explore new areas of discussion, and remain sensitive to unspoken issues and relationships that may affect negotiations.
My initial approach to mediation is as a facilitator. I work to assist the parties in clarifying issues and interests to create a better platform for successful mediation. By leaning where the disputants stand and the true motivations behind those positions an effective mediator will not only facilitate communication between disputants but to assist the parties to explore potential outcomes may arise through mediation. The goal is to develop creative and smart solutions that reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute and, if possible, achieve the win-win outcome that is never possible in a courtroom or arbitration.
Mediation can be complicated. However, as a committed student of mediation, my extensive mediation training and avid reading of mediation theories and techniques provides me with a broad-based knowledge of various mediation styles and techniques that I can draw upon as needed. I pride myself on being able to adjust and adapt easily to each mediation session for the betterment of the parties, while remaining neutral, fair, and committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct.
I also consider myself a pro-active mediator, urging parties to prioritize their issues, while working with counsel and often assisting them in formulating and packaging proposals. In this way, I aid them in archiving their desired interests and help keep the parties from negotiating against themselves.
All I ask is that the parties enter into mediation in good faith and allow the process to work for them. This includes being prepared to engage in meaningful and intelligent discussion of all issues: an assessment of the claims, facts, defenses, and potential damages; some knowledge of relevant law and litigation risks; preparation of supporting arguments; and consideration of alternative positions. The more prepared the parties and the mediator are in the mediation process, the more effective mediation can be.
In the end, my goal as a mediator is to help resolve disputes in a way that is acceptable for parties, allowing the participants to get back to business and their regularly scheduled lives.
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