Neutrality in Mediation: How Does That Really Work?


Mediation is one of the most popular forms of alternative dispute resolution today, yielding great success rates over classic litigation. Many parties—especially business owners—who would have ended up in the courtroom otherwise are relieved to find that they can resolve their differences in a more affordable and casual atmosphere, sometimes even able to meet with the mediator during weeknights or on weekends to work around busy schedules.

The success of mediation centers around the willingness of the disputing parties to compromise and reach an agreement, but the mediator plays a starring role in helping the process move along, from meeting with everyone beforehand to understand their issues, helping to prod the discussion along when there may be a stalemate, as well as drafting all the necessary documents for the court in the end. This is not a venue, however, where the mediator performs any of the decision-making.

Styles may vary when it comes to mediators, but neutrality is key. As the third party in the room, the mediator also has a responsibility to create an air of safety for opinionated discourse about the topic that has landed the individuals present in dispute. It is also vital that the primary individuals involved in the dispute (and authorized to sign off on the agreement) are present and engaged in the mediation, with the understanding that the mediator does not have a stake in either side. For them to take a side would severely disrupt the mediation, along with the credibility of the mediator—and the process itself.

Relying on the neutral mediator to keep the process flowing smoothly means that much of the adversarial quality is removed from the case, as well as the constant focus on blame. Instead, both parties face each other instead of a constant focus on ‘telling it to the judge.’ While some cases may be better resolved through litigation, those who agree to or seek out mediation often do so because they are interested in protecting a long-term relationship, which may not only be an investment in friendship and partnership, but also financial as well. You may be involved in a mediation which involves a vendor or a contractor who you may hope to continue working with later despite current conflict.

The Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of clients through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

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