Mediation is a consensual process in which parties engaged in a dispute are empowered to negotiate their own confidential outcome with the help of a mediator, an independent and neutral third party. Whether you're mediating for the first time or have mediated many times before, when you agree to mediate you want a fair, balanced process that produces results.

Many people are uncomfortable with mediation because they are unfamiliar with the process. They don't know what to expect, how to prepare, and how to conduct themselves. Legal counsel can play an important role in preparing a client for mediation. Whether you're represented by a lawyer or not, the following Q & A can help you prepare:

What happens in a mediation?

Setting the tone, a mediation session is much like a facilitated business meeting. The mediator:
· introduces the process,
· sets the ground rules for discussion, and
· establishes the agenda for the meeting.

Opening statements...or not
In many cases, each side then delivers an opening statement:
· to briefly describe their view of the case, and
· to outline what they hope to achieve through the session.

In other cases, the parties may choose to forego an opening statement. Instead, the mediator provides a brief synopsis of the facts and issues, as gleaned from the written mediation briefs exchanged by the parties in advance of the mediation session.

What should I do to prepare?

1. Role play with counsel or, if you are unrepresented, with a trusted adviser, to
-review your story
-assess how the other side will view your story
-consider the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the other side's
2. Review the issues
3. List your interests in priority sequence
4. Consider options for settlement - "pie in the sky" thinking is encouraged
5. Prepare for any potential emotional confrontation
6. Consider the alternatives to settlement - monetary and otherwise

Do I speak and what do I say?

1. Speaking is encouraged subject to the advice of counsel
2. It's in your interests to participate
-to convince the other side of the merits of your case
-to show the other side that you'd make a compelling witness at trial

How does the mediator help to resolve my case?

1. By working with all parties to identify the issues and interests at the heart of the dispute
2. By challenging and engaging the parties to discuss and explore the issues and underlying interests
3. By getting the parties to see the dispute differently
-from the other side's perspective and
-from a judge's point of view
4. By assisting the parties to develop workable and sustainable options for resolution


1. The parties retain control of their dispute
2. Higher quality results
3. The business relationship of the parties is preserved and possibly enhanced
4. PLUS, most times it's:
-More flexible
-More efficient, and Cheaper.