Sometimes individuals or businesses become involved in disputes which, although very important and worrisome to those concerned, are better resolved outside of the comparatively expensive court system. Some disputes do not have a legal solution, while others may be made worse by court action. In such cases, alternative dispute resolution (and mediation in particular} may be preferable to litigation.
In mediation, a neutral third party tries to help the parties reach an agreement that meets both of their needs. A mediator provides legal information and guides discussion, but does not represent either party and cannot provide legal advice. In most cases, both sides in the mediation are represented by an attorney who participates in the negotiations along with the parties and the mediator. In other cases, the parties are unrepresented and the mediator deals directly with each party. Virtually any type of case can be mediated. The issues can include contract disputes, partnership dissolutions, workplace conflicts, discrimination complaints, trust and estate or probate disputes, environmental disputes, and many others.
Often, all participants meet initially with the mediator to discuss the case in general and to review the mediation process. The parties are then sequestered in separate rooms and the mediator goes back and forth as a liaison trying to develop a consensus for settlement. The mediator, based upon his personal experience and knowledge of the law, provides direct and honest analysis to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreed upon settlement. Mediation is not binding upon the parties and success depends upon the mediator’ s abilities to persuade the parties to reach an agreement. Mediation has a number of advantages over litigation, including:
- It is usually faster and less costly
- Parties have a chance to tell their story as they see it
- It is more flexible and responsive to the individual needs of the parties involved
- It is more informal
- The parties’ involvement in the process creates greater commitment to the result so that compliance is more likely
- The process is completely confidential
- Mediation is more likely to preserve goodwill or at least not escalate the conflict, which is especially important in situations where there is a continuing relationship
Attorney Halloran has had extensive training as a mediator and brings his decades of experience as a litigator and advocate to the mediation process. He is impartial and objective, and has the ability to be gentle, yet firm when needed. These traits help him to guide parties to a successful, mutually agreed upon resolution of their dispute.