By Mediator Lee Wallace
As a mediator, I help people resolve cases without going to trial. At the end of a hard day of negotiating, I see the smiles and the relief on people’s faces when they settle the case.
Lawyers understand the importance of mediation, but it can be confusing to laypeople. So how do you explain to your client why you think mediation makes sense? Here are four compelling reasons.
1. Get Control of the Result.
Mediation gives you more control over the outcome in your case. If your case goes to trial, you hand control over to 12 strangers. They don’t know you or the facts of your case when they walk into that courtroom. But if you mediate the case, you can keep control over what happens. You can fashion a flexible decision that takes into account who you are and what you want to accomplish. Mediation puts the control back in the hands of the people who are most affected by the decision and who know the facts the best.
2. Get Faster Results.
Mediation gives you faster results. It can take months or years to get on a court’s trial calendar. The lengthy wait for trial is hard on plaintiffs AND defendants. By contrast, a settlement happens right away, as soon as you agree. Within a matter of days, individuals can collect their money and move on with medical treatment and the rest of their lives. Companies can know much earlier what the costs of a lawsuit will be so that they can make better business decisions, and company employees can be spared the distraction of litigation, discovery and trial. As a mediator, I help people get faster results so they can move forward.
3. Save Time.
One of my favorite quotes ever comes from the book Cheaper by the Dozen. The children of famous efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth told this story:
“Someone once asked Dad: “But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?” “For work, if you love that best,” said Dad. “For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.” He looked over the top of his pince-nez. “For mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.”
With mediation, you can save your time for “where your heart lies.” With the dubious exception of the attorneys, pretty much everybody would rather be doing something other than sitting through a trial. And unfortunately, trial takes substantial time for everyone. The plaintiff, the defendant and their witnesses will have to take time off work for days or even weeks. The attorneys for both sides will spend countless hours preparing voir dire, direct examinations, cross-examinations, opening statements and closing arguments.
Mediation takes into account the fact that you only have so much time. By settling your case at mediation, you can put all of that time toward doing whatever it is you would rather do.
4. Save Money.
No two ways about it, trial is expensive. The defendant has to pay his lawyer to prepare and handle the trial. Depending on the type of case, the plaintiff may also have to pay his lawyer for the trial.
And even if the plaintiff has a lawyer working on a contingency fee, both sides will incur case expenses — like experts, travel expenses, copies, demonstrative exhibits, court reporters and video presentation costs — which skyrocket during a trial. For the plaintiff, those costs are subtracted out of the amount the plaintiff gets paid at the end.
By reaching an agreement at mediation, the parties can skip the trial and save substantial amounts of money.