Most businesses, whether here in California or elsewhere, end up in disputes with other businesses or individuals. They could be vendors, customers or employees. Resolving those disputes doesn't always happen over lunch or a friendly phone call.
The first step is often an informal meeting to try to work things out before taking any steps in the legal direction. If that doesn't work, you may dread taking the next steps if you believe that your only option is traditional litigation.
There is another way
Fortunately, you do have other choices. One of them is mediation. Among its numerous advantages is the fact that the parties enter into it voluntarily, which means that each side wants to resolve their issues without a contentious courtroom battle. Other advantages include the following:
- The setting is informal. This allows the parties and the mediator to focus on finding a resolution instead of winning or losing in court.
- The parties remain in control. They control the negotiations and the outcome.
- The parties can preserve their relationship. Since mediation requires compromise and cooperation, the parties may find a way to work together and to work past the differences that brought them to the table.
- The process takes less time. Mediation generally takes less time than litigation, which means the parties can get back to their lives and businesses faster.
- Mediation costs less. The demands of litigation often end up costing much more than mediation sessions.
- The results are often more satisfying. Because of the above advantages, the agreements reached through mediation are often more mutually satisfying than the decisions made in a courtroom.
One last advantage that many people fail to realize until later is that the parties tend to comply with the agreement because they had a part in creating it.
Will it work for you?
Nearly any civil matter could benefit from mediation instead of litigation. The catch is that the parties need to agree to undergo the process. The mediator does not make the decisions, but helps keep the parties on track and offers advice regarding possible solutions, along with how a court would rule under the same circumstances. What a mediator does not do is advise you of and protect your rights. Even if you decide to mediate your dispute, you may still find the experience and assistance of an attorney invaluable.