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Frequently Asked Questions

and their answers

What is Mediation?

Merriam-Webster defines mediation as “an intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement or compromise.” It is a voluntary, confidential, and self-determinative process, in which an objective/neutral individual (or individuals) works with conflicting parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable and workable solution. Mediators do not provide any legal advice or advocate for any of the parties to the mediation, and unlike judges or arbitrators, mediators do not have any power to make decisions for the parties. The parties to mediation always retain control over the outcome of the mediation.

There are varying types of mediation. Erin most often uses a facilitative method, which involves posing open-ended and probing questions to examine and better understand the interests behind each party’s position, to explore where there are overlapping interests, and to uncover outcomes that sufficiently address those interests for the parties.

Why Mediate?

Mediation saves money. Litigation is expensive. There are court fees, attorney fees, expert fees, and more. Mediation limits, if not extinguishes, some of these costs.

Mediation saves time. The wheels of justice grind slowly. It can sometimes take years before the parties get to trial. Then there are post-judgment motions and appeals to contend with, which drag the process out further. During the litigation process the parties will spend countless hours communicating with attorneys, gathering information and documents, responding to written interrogatories, giving depositions, helping attorneys prepare to take other depositions, preparing for trial, testifying at trial, and attending trial. These hours add up to lost productivity for both individuals businesses. On the other hand, most mediations last about a day. Moreover, when mediation is successful, the parties to the dispute no longer have to worry about expending valuable time on the matter.

Mediation saves stress. Most people do not enjoy being in the midst of conflict. Most of us will lose sleep as a result of a dispute, asking ourselves: How will this impact my public image? How will this impact my family, employees or co-workers? What will the cost be to productivity? Will there be a lasting impact to my relationships? How will it impact the bottom line? Mediation helps curb these stresses and removes uncertainty from the process. Instead of wondering what a judge or jury will decide, the parties in mediation retain control over the outcome.

Deciding whether to mediate and which mediator(s) to hire is a personal decision. We offer free consultations to help give you the information you need to make the right decision for you.

What Is A Collaborative Law Process?
  • It is a voluntary dispute resolution process that gives participants a high level of self-determination and assistance from professionals as they work toward a resolution without the use of courts.
  • It is a client-centered, structured approach that allows parties to identify interests, gather information, identify and evaluate options, and reach a workable and sustainable agreement.
  • Collaborative attorneys are specially trained in interest-based negotiation and conflict resolution skills, such as active listening, looping, and impasse prevention.
  • Participants and their attorneys contractually commit to the following:
    • Negotiate an agreement without using the court to decide any issues.
    • Complete transparency through voluntary disclosure of all relevant and material information.
    • Use of good faith efforts in negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.
    • Withdrawal of attorneys and other professionals, if any, if either participant goes to court.
  • The parties typically engage a neutral coach to facilitate the process, promote effective communication and reduce misunderstandings; reduce emotional intensity; work collaboratively with the participants, their attorneys, and other neutral professionals.
  • The parties have an option of engaging other neutral experts, too, such as mental health, financial, or real estate experts, as needed.
What are the differences between Mediation, Collaborative Law, and Litigation? 
VoluntaryThe judge controls the process and the outcome.Mandatory if no agreement is reached
Mandatory if no agreement is reachedParties retain control.Judge controls the process and the outcome.
Parties are not typically represented by counsel.Parties are represented.Can be self-represented or represented by counsel. 
Parties pledge in writing to be mutually respectful and transparent in communications, and to negotiate in good faith.Parties pledge in writing to be mutually respectful and  transparent in communications, and to negotiate in good faith.Based on the adversarial system.
May not take place until significant time has passed, litigation is underway and discovery has occurred.Begins before any litigation or discovery takes place. Court sets schedule and crowded court dockets may lead to delay.
Open communication among parties or in breakout rooms with the mediator who goes between rooms.Open communication among parties in the same room.No facilitate communication; adversarial system.
One professional, the mediator, working with the partiesTeam of professionals (attorneys, coach, neutral experts)Adversarial process; experts hired by each party, often at high cost.
Compassionate and empatheticTrial is neither compassionate nor empathetic.Trial is neither compassionate or empathetic.
Cost of mediator only (unless represented by counsel), usually least expensive option of the three.Costs for attorneys, coaches, and neutral experts are manageable; coach’s role increases efficiency; efficient use of neutral experts; often less expensive than litigation. Unpredictable costs of attorneys and experts over the course of litigation and trial; costs can escalate rapidly and may include post-judgment litigation costs.