By Kristen Doleva-Lecher
Published Originally in the 422 Business Adviser
Doleva Law is experienced in Mediation and our attorney, Kristen Doleva-Lecher is a qualified Mediator.
Q. What is mediation and how can it be utilized to benefit my company?
A. Mediation is a form of “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR). ADR, which includes mediation, is a process in which disagreeing parties seek resolution through different techniques without initiating litigation.
Recently mediation has earned attention through the incorporation of mediation into the family law system. In Pennsylvania, any person who files a custody action must attend an information session on mediation with the other parent. Attorneys are not allowed to be involved in the session. Each county in Pennsylvania differs slightly in how each mediation program is organized.
Mediation is an exercise in encouraging conversation between disagreeing parties. The mediator is neutral and his or her only purpose is to encourage communication between the parties. There are no set rules, however since the parties are in charge they are free to establish their own rules. The goal of mediation versus litigation is to enable parties to make their own decisions, a judge or jury is not deciding the outcome. Through confidential negotiation and discussion the parties may reach an agreement that is acceptable to both of them. This method of dispute resolution can have significant advantages over traditional litigation in court.
Litigation in court means having lawyers, and adhering to the rules of evidence in what can be a long, drawn-out process. Mediation, on the other hand, does not require lawyers, and the parties are free to air out all of their concerns and complaints, not just those that could make it into evidence at a trial.
Mediation is less costly than litigation. Rather than each party retaining an attorney, the parties only need one mediator. Sessions typically consist of two-three hour increments although should it be necessary mediation can sometimes last for several sessions. A mediator should be certified, which means that usually an attorney or a psychologist has completed a 40-hour intensive training course. You can find a mediator through your local Bar Association or contact a local Mediation center.
Mediation has become a popular and effective method in addressing a variety of business issues. For example, mediation can be utilized in your business for:
• Human Resource issues dealing with employees
• Resolving partnership issues
• Renegotiating existing partnership agreements, or creating buy-out agreements
• Negotiating dissolution of businesses
• Resolving conflicts between business owners
Mediation will benefit your company in that:
• New businesses can move forward quickly with a clear agreement and understanding of job duties that are satisfactory to all parties.
• Established businesses can resolve problems that may have been lurking without the hassle or cost of litigation
• An in-house mediation provides a confidential and private atmosphere that does not extend beyond the perimeter of the company
• The parties are able to maintain an existing and working business relationship which often is thwarted by litigation.
Although some disputes will still require resolution in a courtroom setting, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution are gaining increasing popularity as a viable method of settling disputes. As more lawyers and psychologists become certified to mediate cases, mediation will only become more prevalent. Business owners, like child custody litigants, will soon recognize the many benefits mediation has to offer.