Mediation is the Pro Se Litigant's Legal Aid
Make ADR the best source of Legal Aid
Your mantra: It’s never too late … to mediate!
You’re in a legal dispute headed for the courts and probably hiring an attorney or some type of legal aid. STOP. Go to ADR instead and hire your attorney-mediator for half their fee and have an 85% chance to have your dispute resolved. Really?
Let’s back up a minute and define this process called Mediation which could be the perfect answer for you. Mediation is one of two primary Alternative Dispute Resolution methods, referred to as ADR. Arbitration is the other. This page introduces you to the Mediation process – its advantages, the philosophy behind it, when you should consider Mediation, and how Mediation brings the litigation juggernaut to a screeching halt. Arbitration has a separate page.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADR’S MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION
The biggest differences between the two processes are:
- Mediation is a cooperative process, a settlement prelude to Arbitration or one’s day in court. It does not replace existing legal rights.
- Arbitration is an adversarial process which replaces one’s day in court.
Arbitration is intimidating. Mediation is empowering.
Mediation among agreeing parties is unconventional in its departure from the centuries-old rival scenario characterizing our legal process. It’s a modern collaborative way of finding legal solution through facilitated meetings at the negotiation table. It completely discards the warlike practices of our traditional court system.
A Ticket to ADR Is Required for Entry
You enter the door of Mediation or Arbitration with an agreement signed by you and your adversary. These private, out-of-court platforms are not like the court system where anyone can file a lawsuit without the consent of their adversary.
Therefore, Mediation and Arbitration are called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures. They are alternative to the courts. Everyone who enters ADR is voluntarily agreeing to utilize a more efficient system to resolve their dispute.
Mediation is a cooperative process while
Arbitration is adversarial
Most parties that go to Mediation have agreed they will proceed to Arbitration for a binding result if their dispute fails to resolve in Mediation. They decide that keeping their dispute out of court is to their advantage.
How to Get Your Mediation Ticket
Wise disputing parties find their way to Mediation in several ways, always by a signed Mediation Agreement:
- Often, they have signed a Mediation Agreement in advance of their dispute
- Others enter when their dispute arises
- Others enter after they have filed their lawsuit as a mandate from the court hoping the parties will find resolve before the litigation grind takes hold
- Litigants that have been exposed to the Litigation Frenzy sometimes retreat to Mediation having been worn down by the House of Horrors (the Upper Civil Courts)
- Those with Small Claims cases often also detour to Mediation before their case is heard hoping to avoid the hearing
Whatever way you get there, it’s best to have a mindset of let’s get this over quickly and inexpensively instead of as a prelude to war.
WHY AGREE TO ADR as your form of legal aid?
Why hire expensive attorneys to handle your dispute when you can hire an attorney ADR specialist to resolve your case by Mediation or Arbitration in just a few short months? Let the Attorney specialist handle the dispute for you and your adversary. Let the ADR-attorney be your Legal Aid, the person to bring legal expertise to your dispute? It’s certainly better than each of you hiring an attorney and duking it out in court.
Even when required by contract or by the court, Mediation is purely a settlement process with one ingredient that can make all the difference – the skill of your specially trained Mediator. Mediators have silent power. They have a skillset that can turn a potentially bloody battle into a Settlement Agreement. If the dispute does not resolve, it moves onto its next forum where a legally binding judgment is rendered – either in the House of Horrors (superior or circuit court) or Arbitration.
Mediation does not result in a decision, order, or judgment imposed on the parties
The best time to engage in Mediation is early on, before the money and energy drain of litigation has left its painful mark. If it doesn’t work the first time, do it again and again or punctuate it with Automated Online Negotiation. It’s worth repetition, especially when the litigation process begins wearing you down and chipping away at your nest egg.
MEDIATION HAS AN 85% SUCCESS RATE!
85% of Cases Settle at Mediation
California, the leader in ADR programs, boasts that 85% of Mediations settle. And many other states log in with equally praiseworthy figures. The American Arbitration Association and Judicial Arbitration and Mediation, both leading ADR providers, have valuable free online tools to help legal consumers obtain a more reasonable justice through Mediation and Arbitration.
THE SECRET BEHIND MEDIATION’S SUCCESS and how it can be your best legal aid
Mediation’s success is due to the ideal combination of cooperative efforts between disagreeing parties with the skillful facilitation of a Mediator. It’s a powerful recipe that brings power to the people with the glue and reality check the mediator provides.
Most participants have failed to find resolution on their own and some have experienced the stark reality of the court system to find that bringing a mediator on board made all the difference.
These forces present a strategic about-face where warring parties lay down their armor in favor of peaceful negotiation. They understand what lies ahead and just need a skillful push and a few mediator-crafted horror stories to provide the impetus to find a middle ground. Incredibly, they do. Instead of an impersonal court system deciding your fate, you are in charge.
MEDIATION IS EMPOWERING
Because of its reputation for empowering people to achieve quick, lasting solution, Mediation is referred to as the holistic legal approach.
IN-PERSON OR ONLINE MEDIATION
There are two ways to participate in Mediation: In-person with the parties present together and online with the parties present online, or a hybrid of the two. Online mediation, sometimes referred to as ODR, has taken an explosive lead since the pandemic where being in one another’s presence was challenging to say the least. The ADR Coach describes these platforms more in depth.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR MEDIATION PROCESS
In ADR, you can actually set the stage for your proceeding, something you cannot do in court. For instance, you can agree:
- To engage in Automated Online Negotiation with just the parties before implementing Mediation
- To specify the Mediation provider
- The parties will be self-represented
- The proceedings will be limited in duration
- The proceedings will be online/in-person/a hybrid
- And so forth.
Take the time to set the stage for your Mediation instead of blindly walking into the proceedings without considering the many options available. If you already have a Mediation Agreement and it does not include these options, they can be added now if all parties agree. Our Options Addendum includes these options. The ADR Coach further explores these important options.
Now that we’ve introduced you to Mediation, review the Mediation Coach for more information about the mediation process and how to best customize it and Mediation Mechanics for a detailed description of a Mediation session in action.
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