By: Dean A. Langdon
Our court system is highly developed to help resolve disputes and maintain the rule of law in our society. But participating in the legal system can be expensive, complicated and lengthy. Mediation is an alternative method for resolving disputes that can deliver a better result sooner and at a lower cost than the legal system. Dean Langdon with DelCotto Law Group has been a mediator for almost 30 years and wanted to share information about mediation to help you resolve problems, now or in the future.
What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal process where a neutral third person (a mediator) facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. The process is designed to help disputing parties reach an agreement on some or all the issues in dispute. The parties stay in control of any resolution, not the mediator (or a judge). The mediator helps the parties identify issues, fosters joint problem solving, and explores settlement alternatives. Mediation is a process for the parties to reach a “win-win” solution – a result where both (or all) parties gain something. This differs from the legal system, where a “win-lose” result is the normal outcome. What parties often realize after being involved in the legal system is that the attorneys benefit regardless of whether a party wins or loses, and a judge’s decision is often an “all or nothing” result.
Why should I choose mediation?
Judges have to follow the law, and once the facts are proven, the law often requires a certain result. While mediation isn’t a ticket to violate the law, it is a process that lets the parties be creative and brainstorm potential solutions. No matter how fair and wise a judge may be, a parties’ ability to have a say in creating the solution to a problem makes it more likely they will perform the agreement. Let’s take a common business dispute where one party disputes the quality of a product and doesn’t pay the other party for it. In the legal system, the parties are likely to pay thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars to attorneys fighting to prove their positions. And a judge will likely find one party wins, while the other loses. If the parties chose to mediate this dispute (before or after going to court), a mediator would help them explore all sort of solutions ranging from partial payment to repair or replacement of the produce to payment over time.
Do I really need a mediator for my dispute?
So, why can’t parties do this without a mediator? They can, of course, but mediators are trained to help parties help identify issues behind the position a party takes in court, and to generate options to address those issues. Lawyers are trained to advocate for their clients’ position and get the “win” from the court. They rarely explore why a client is taking a particular position, or whether some resolution other than an all-out “win” might actually be the best solution. And while mediators can provide valuable input to parties during a mediation, they have no authority to make any decisions about the dispute. Parties are free to the mediation at any time and proceed through the legal system. In short, mediation provides a process for parties to try and solve problems on their own, rather than being told what the solution is by someone else.
How we can help business owners with mediation
Business owners should be aware of mediation as a method for resolving all sorts of disputes in the workplace – from issues with vendors and employees to internal governance issues. Dean Langdon has experience with a wide variety of businesses and is available to help you resolve your business disputes out of court!
DelCotto Law Group is Kentucky’s asset preservation and business restructuring law firm known for its commitment to the lifetime success of its clients. With offices located in Lexington, Louisville and Danville, DLG serves Kentuckians with complicated financial matters, especially in the areas of bankruptcy and complex litigation. For more information please call (859) 231-5800, email [email protected] or reach us on our contact page.