Mediation is a form of dispute resolution, meaning: If two people or businesses have a disagreement, a mediator will help them find a resolution. Mediation is typically categorized as a form of alternative dispute resolution. As in, mediation is an alternative to using lawyers and the legal system. So, instead of suing a person or company, a mediator can help people find a mutually acceptable resolution to their problem.
Bonus: Mediation is also quicker and cheaper than the courts.
The main ways in which mediation is different from using lawyers and judges are:
Mediation is confidential. Courts are typically public.
Mediation is voluntary. Courts generally impose consequences if a party does not show up.
Mediation is all about self-determination - in other words, the parties create their own solutions. In a court, a judge decides for the parties.
Often, mediators are attorneys who recognize the fact that their unique skill set is not actually best suited to all cases. So they get trained in mediation, but they still have their legal knowledge. Interestingly, using an attorney as a mediator does not actually provide additional guidance: Mediators are (usually*) barred from providing legal advice.
I became a mediator because mediation relies heavily on active listening skills. With my degrees in Women’s Studies, my experience as a trainer and facilitator, and my work in community organizing, I am well-equipped to listen and guide parties to share their points of view, discuss ideas for resolution, and think through potential outcomes. Moving people to a future-focused mindset is key to helping them resolve disputes, without resolving the dispute for them.
At Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation, we provide facilitative mediation services. That means we will never give you our opinion on a case’s outcome. We provide truly neutral, process-focused mediation services. We help every party at the table feel heard before moving forward to brainstorming resolutions and creating the final agreement.
*Every state has their own regulations about mediation.