Unite Mediation Services

What is mediation?

Mediation is a procedure in which the parties discuss their disputes with the assistance of a trained impartial third person(s) who assists them in reaching a settlement. It may be an informal meeting among the parties or a scheduled settlement conference. The dispute may be pending in a court or potentially a dispute which may be filed in court. Cases suitable for mediation are disputes in commercial transactions, personal injury, construction, workers compensation, labor or community relations, divorce, domestic relations, employment or any other matters which do not involve complex procedural or evidentiary issues. Attendance at the mediation conference is voluntary by the parties, except where governed by statute or contract clause.

The mediator is a person with patience, persistence and common sense. She/he has an arsenal of negotiation techniques, human dynamics skills and powers of effective listening, articulation and restatement. The mediator is a facilitator who has no power to render a resolution to the conflict. The parties will fashion the solution as the mediator moves through the process. In many jurisdictions the mediator is an attorney but can not give legal advise while in the role of a mediator. However, the mediator's subject area expertise may be beneficial to the parties in wording and framing the mediated agreement or in circumstances where the parties are open to neutral case evaluation.


How does mediation work?

The conference is held at a mutually agreeable neutral place. It can be the office of the mediator or another private facility unavailable to spectators. However, the initial mediation may continue with subsequent telephone negotiations between the mediator and the parties where appropriate. Generally mediators will employ face to face negotiations or conduct co-mediations in potentially inflammatory circumstances such as domestic relations.

Present at the session are the parties, their attorneys, if represented, the mediator and others as agreed to in advance. In community mediations there is generally a large number of persons present and often there are co-mediators.

Parties to a mediation may or may not be represented by counsel. When counsel is present the parties may be encouraged to work with the mediators and to confer with the attorneys on legal issues. In general, protocol with the attorneys is set prior to the session. Attendance at the mediation by the party with the authority to settle is essential. In personal injury or workers compensation mediation, the insurance adjusters must advise the mediator that their supervisor or another person with full settlement authority is readily available by telephone.

The session, at the discretion of the mediator or the forum, may be process-centered ( facilitative) or substance-orientation (case settlement or evaluative). Case settlement is often preferred by most courts which use mediation for their small claims cases.