Over the past 15 years, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has become all the rage as parties try to limit the time and expenses they might expend if forced to litigate disputes in court. One of the ADR mechanisms whose use has exploded in growth is mediation. Indeed, it seems that every month or two I see an announcement that a recently retired judge is joining one of the big mediation firms, such as JAMS, or is starting his or her own mediation practice.
While I often engage in mediation as a way to try to resolve my clients’ disputes, it is important to understand what mediation is, and what mediation is not, so that you can evaluate whether it might be an appropriate vehicle to use in an effort to settle a particular dispute that you or your business might have.
Although people often confuse mediation with arbitration, the only real similarity is that parties generally cannot be forced to either mediate or arbitrate a dispute; they must voluntarily agree to engage in either process. Substantively, however, mediation could not be more different than arbitration.… Keep reading