Mediation is a process of resolving disputes outside of court, where a neutral third party, known as a mediator, facilitates communication and negotiations between the disputing parties. In California, mediation has become an extremely popular and effective way to handle conflict resolution, as it is quicker, less expensive, and less formal than going to court.
It is important to be well-prepared to ensure your mediation session is productive and successful.
This article discusses some tips to help you prepare for your mediation session in California so you can feel confident and ready for a productive negotiation.
1. Choose a Highly Qualified and Experienced Mediator
Take time to research mediators and choose someone with experience relevant to your dispute. It is also advisable to review the mediation process, including the role of the mediator, the rules of evidence, how the session will be structured, measures for confidentiality, and the cost of the mediation session. Many mediators charge an hourly fee for all work performed, while others charge a one-time, simple flat fee.
2. Gather Relevant Documents
Gather any documents related to the dispute, such as emails, receipts, contracts, invoices, or other materials that you foresee coming in handy in the resolution. Be thoroughly familiar with your documents, and be prepared to clarify and provide explanations as needed. These documents help support your case and may also be useful in negotiating a resolution.
3. Communicate With the Other Party
Try to communicate with the other party ahead of the mediation session. This helps clear up misunderstandings and establish a more positive atmosphere for the session. However, avoid discussing confidential information that may be inappropriate outside the mediation session. In California, mediation proceedings and communications between parties are confidential and inadmissible as evidence in court, except in very limited circumstances. The high level of confidentiality means that any information or statements made during mediation cannot be disclosed or used in court without the consent of all parties. By avoiding discussing confidential or sensitive information outside of the mediation session, you can help to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the negotiation process.
4. Arrange for Representation
If you have a lawyer, discuss your case in detail with them well before the mediation session. Your lawyer can help you prepare for the session and provide legal advice during the session if needed. You may also have your lawyer help you prepare your mediation brief, which is a summary of your position, as many mediators ask for briefing ahead of your mediation session. If you do not have a lawyer, consider hiring one or finding a free or low-cost legal services provider.
5. Consider Goals for Your Mediation
It is important to consider what you hope to achieve in the session. Consider your goals and what matters to you in solving the dispute. Before the mediation session, take some time to think about your priorities and goals for the session and how you will determine if you have achieved the result you were hoping for from the session. This will help you stay focused during the session and make reaching a resolution that meets your goals and needs easier. It is important to remember that compromise is an inherent part of the mediation process.
6. Be Prepared to Make the First Offer
If you value the financial result from the mediation session, making a reasonable and fair first offer will enable you to anchor the negotiation in your favor. However, if you are uncertain about the value of what you are negotiating or would prefer to avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with “showing your cards” first, it may be best to refrain from making the first offer. Be sure to discuss this in detail with your lawyer well before the mediation session to determine your agreed upon strategy.
7. Be Open to Compromise
Mediation is a process that involves give and take, and being open to compromise is absolutely critical in order to move the mediation process forward. The success of the process depends on all parties’ willingness to compromise. Be prepared to listen to the other party’s perspective and consider their position.
8. Be Prepared to Make a Decision
At the end of the session, the mediator may ask you to decide whether to accept a proposed resolution. Be prepared to make a decision, but also be prepared to continue the negotiation process if needed. Mediation provides you with a wonderful opportunity to put an end to protracted litigation, and that decision is ultimately yours to make.
Contact the Skilled Mediators in Encinitas, California, at Blue Sky Mediation Center, LLC. If you are considering mediation for your dispute, contact our experienced mediator in San Diego County at Blue Sky Mediation Center or call us at 760.454.7277. Schedule a free consultation with us today, and we can help you determine which legal resolution method is right for you.