While mediation can be used to resolve any dispute, it is a preferred means of resolving matters where:
Mediation is generally less expensive when it results in settlement. Mediation does not include extensive (and expensive) pre-trial processes such as discovery. Additionally, because parties decide their own resolution, mediations are less likely to result in post-trial enforcement processes. Mediations where settlements are not reached are more expensive because you will have to go through another process (arbitration or court) to resolve it. That said, even where a mediation does not result in a settlement, parties typically report being glad they tried it. Because mediation gives you an opportunity to explain your point of view and be heard, you can obtain a better understanding of your case even when you are ultimately unable to agree on a settlement.
It is never a bad idea to hire a lawyer when you are involved in a dispute. Lawyers can give you professional advice and advocate on your behalf. While you could represent yourself in court, that is rarely done outside of small claims court because of the formality and complexity of the process. Parties often represent themselves in smaller cases handled through ADR.
While Laura is an attorney licensed to practice in New York and New Jersey, Neutrality Now specializes in providing neutrals to preside over arbitrations and mediations. We do not give legal advice, provide advisory legal services or perform advocacy work. Neutrality Now seeks to avoid engagements that could jeopardize our ability to provide independent, neutral resolution of disputes.
Arbitrators and mediators are often called "Neutrals." You need to have a neutral who will be impartial - that means a person who you do not know personally and who has the ability to review your dispute without prejudging it. Familiarity with the background of the dispute (the relevant industry or nature of the disagreement for instance) can be extremely helpful in expediting the process. However, a neutral with too much familiarity may believe they have "heard it all before," resulting in them prejudging your dispute based on their past experiences. Ideally you want a neutral who is professional, responsive and impartial. Someone who listens carefully, understands the nature of the dispute and is a good communicator.