Clark & Bellamy offers mediation services through trained and certified mediator William Clark. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution option for legal disputes. A mediator works with the parties involved to come to an agreement or settlement using specialized negotiation and communication techniques. This process encourages all individuals involved to be actively involved in the process, focusing on the interests, rights, and needs of all parties. Mediation offers a number of benefits and may be used to settle many different legal disputes.
Mediation Services – How They Work
Mediation services usually include the six following steps:
- Step #1 – Introductions – Once all parties involved are present, the mediator takes the time to make introductions. The setting is controlled to ensure no one feels threatened, and an opening statement will be given by the mediator. During this statement, the roles of participants are outlined, showing the neutrality of the mediator. This statement also sets the ground rules for mediation, ensuring that it moves along smoothly in the future.
- Step #2 – Statement of Problem – Both sides have the chance to give their side of the story during this step. This not only gives each party a chance to share their perspective of the issues, but it provides the mediator with more information. This is an important step in ultimately finding a solution for the problem.
- Step #3 – Information Gathering – This step involves the mediator asking each party open-ended questions that help show the mediator any emotional undercurrents. Key ideas may be summarized and repeated back, building rapport between the parties and the mediator.
- Step #4 – Problem Identification – During this step, mediators work to find common goals between parties, figuring out which issues can be settled first.
- Step #5 – Generating Options and Bargaining – Generating options may include discussion groups, coming up with hypothetical scenarios, proposals from the mediator, or going through group processes.
- Step #6 – Reaching Agreements – The final step is for parties to come to mutual agreements that solve the original problem.
Types of Legal Disputes that May Use Mediation
In most cases, mediation is a viable option in most non-criminal legal disputes. Many mediation cases involve dealing with the conflicts that arise during child custody battles or divorces. Other legal issues that may use mediation is disputes that occur between business partners, tenants and landlords, management and labor unions, family members, and neighbors. In some areas, mediation may be mandatory in cases that involve disagreements between neighbors or child custody issues.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation offers a number of benefits to the parties involved, including:
- Benefit #1 – Confidentiality – Court hearings happen to be public, but when parties choose mediation, the proceedings are confidential. Only the mediator and the parties involved will know what happens.
- Benefit #2 – Lower Cost – Although the fees of a mediator may be comparable to an attorney’s fees, it usually takes less time to move through the mediation process than it does to move through standard legal channels. This results in a much lower cost to the parties involved.
- Benefit #3 – Improved Compliance – Both parties work together to come to an agreement in mediation, which results in greater compliance. Improved compliance helps to lower costs further, since parties generally don’t need to get an attorney involved to force compliance.
- Benefit #4 – More Control Over Resolutions – In court, all the control resides with the jury or the judge. However, parties have a lot more control over resolutions when they go through mediation, which means that mediation is far more likely to offer results that are mutually agreeable and beneficial to all parties involved.
- Benefit #5 – Support from Mediators – Throughout the mediation process, mediators are there to offer support and guidance. They are trained to deal with tough situations, working as a neutral facilitator to help parties get through the process, coming to an acceptable solution.
- Benefit #6 – Faster Results – Going through a legal battle can take months or years to come to a ruling. However, mediation can offer much faster results, offering solutions in several hours or several sessions.
- Benefit #7 – Direct Communication – Instead of only communicating through the lawyers, mediation gives all parties the chance to communicate with one another with the help of a mediator and under strict rules. This often builds rapport and results in better solutions for everyone involved.
How Mediators are Trained
Mediators, including our own William Clark, go through rigorous, comprehensive training before they are able to offer mediation services. Qualified mediators take a thorough, hands-on course that offers the essential skills and conflict resolution theory needed so mediators are able to offer services in private and public settings. Training programs for mediators cover subjects such as:
- Language of neutrality
- Negotiation skills
- Criminal court case issues
- Civil court case issues
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- Steps of the mediation process
- Language of resolution
- Diversity issues
- And more
Not only do mediators go through intense learning, they’re involved with role-plays and demonstrations that help them test and build their skills as a mediator. Training also emphasizes national standards and ethical obligations that mediators must stick to in any setting.
The Goals of Mediation
The primary goal of mediation is to help the parties involved come to an acceptable agreement by exploring all of the available choices. Parties are able to control the results and outcome instead of having a jury or judge make their decisions.
Meanwhile, the parties to a mediation may benefit from tremendous cost savings over litigation and will have the potential of resolving their disputes through good ole-fashioned communication just like our mother’s used to teach you to do.