I cannot remember ever hearing the word mediation in law school. As a young attorney, mediation was not a regular part of the litigation process. In the early 1990’s, cases settled on the eve of trial, generally with the help of the assigned trial judge at a Pretrial conference – after all the work was done and the case was about to be tried. Not the most cost effective approach. But now mediation is the norm, and parties often agree that an early mediation is beneficial to the prospects of settlement, because considerable trial prep expenses can be avoided if the case settles with the help of mediation.
There are many strategic considerations surrounding mediation. Should you mediate? When during the litigation process? Which mediator should you use? What is the proper negotiation strategy?
The answers to these questions will vary on a case by case basis. As a practitioner, I like mediation for most cases. Here’s why. In many cases, I am able to resolve my clients’ dispute on favorable terms. On most others, even where settlement is not accomplished, the preparation, and the information I obtain from the other side, is very useful when it is time to try the case.