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How to be Ready for Mediation

Bob Halagan, Halagan Law Firm, LTD.

Non-lawyers are often not certain what to expect when going into a mediation process.  If they are new to mediation, they often worry most about “telling their story” as opposed to making a deal that works for them.  Mediation is typically triggered when a lawsuit has been started or is being threatened and so the natural instinct is to dig in your heels and come out swinging.  Mediation is a highly effective process when approached correctly and here are a few things to keep in mind when you are going into a mediation process in order to get the best result possible.

Understand the process. It really important to feel like you know what to expect and what you will see the day of the mediation.  Your legal counsel, assuming you have one, should let you know what they know about the mediator, what the setting will look like, how long you should expect to spend and generally what the day will be like and how it progresses.  The considerations and emotions involved at the beginning of the day are often very different from what will be happening at the end of the day.   Make sure you understand what you will be going through so you are less surprised when you are actually in the middle of it.

Make sure the time is right.  Before you agree to mediation, consider whether the time is right.  In my opinion, every dispute should be mediated to avoid the time and stress of a lawsuit (not to mention the legal fees!), but you need to be thoughtful about when to mediate.  Is the other side ready to make a deal with you?  Are you ready?  Is it possible to have direct conversations as opposed to using a third party mediator?  What happens if the time isn’t right; when will it be the best time to get you and the other side to agree?

Who should be there?  And who shouldn’t?  An important consideration is who on your side is in the best place to make a deal?  You have to have someone with authority to make a decision, but is there someone who would be too emotional to make a good choice?  Is there someone who has knowledge that you need to have available when you get into the nitty gritty of the issue?  Is there someone who the other side will respond to strongly, either positively or negatively?

These are a few of the considerations you should have as you prepare for the mediation process.   Being ready in the right way makes it that much more likely you will walk away with a result you find acceptable.

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