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Clients often ask us questions about mediation. The most common questions are:

What is Mediation? What does a mediator do? What happens at Mediation? Do I need to do anything before mediation? How much does mediation cost? What happens if we can’t settle the case at mediation? Should I agree to mediate my dispute?

Mediation is often a cost effective and efficient method to resolve a dispute between two or more parties. It is one of several forms of alternative dispute resolution that involves the parties meeting with a neutral third party called a mediator.

The mediator will typically be a retired judge or an experienced trial lawyer who can help the parties reach a resolution to their dispute without having to go through trial. The mediation can take place at the mediator’s office or an attorney’s office. Both sides will show up (with their lawyers) and present their case to the mediator. After some initial introductions, the mediator will typically move each side to a different room, and then go back and forth and try to get each side to make compromises to settle the case.

The goal of any mediator is to bring both sides together and agree on some settlement which both sides can live with. The mediator is not there to decide who is right and who is wrong. The mediator’s only job is to come up with a solution to the dispute and get all sides to agree.

In order to have a meaningful mediation session, the parties may need to have an informal exchange of documents that evidence the parties’ medical records, agreements, correspondence, expenses, and damages. In some cases, it may be helpful to hire experts to assist an attorney with putting together a powerful presentation to “sell” the mediator and the other side on the merits of a case.

The mediator in a non-binding mediation can tell you and the other side what he thinks are your strengths and weaknesses. However, even if the mediator does not agree with you, he or she cannot do anything to change the way a judge or a jury will rule in your case.

Whether mediation is right for you will depend largely on the facts of your case. Some cases are ready for mediation from the beginning, while others may not be for some time.

Some Los Angeles and California courts and private organizations offer half-day mediation sessions for free or at discounted prices. There are also professional alternative dispute resolution services and private mediators that charge on an hourly, half-day or full daily flat rate basis. The costs of mediation are typically split between the parties and can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars for mediator costs. Often times a single mediation session may not be enough to get the case resolved, and may require additional time for opposing counsel to work out the details. Therefore, if you are going to commit your time and money to mediation it is important that you are well prepared in advance of mediation.

If you are involved in a dispute and would like to know more about mediation, you should speak with a competent and experienced lawyer about your rights and options. Having the Lensky Law Firm on your side to assist you through the mediation process will not only enable you to be adequately prepared for the mediation, but may also result in early settlement and a positive outcome for your case.

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