Camrud, Maddock, Olson & Larson, Ltd., is proud to offer Alternative Dispute Resolution services to its clients. Alternative Dispute Resolution, often referred to as "ADR," can take several forms. ADR refers to alternatives to judicial resolution of conflicts between parties and includes mediation, arbitration, non binding arbitration and mini trials.
While each method of ADR has its place, mediation has a high satisfaction rate when it comes to resolving disputes. Along with keeping costs down, especially if undertaken early, mediation is desirable to clients since it does not necessarily produce a winner and a loser - an important result particularly in situations where the parties will have some kind of ongoing relationship after the dispute at hand is resolved.
The dispute resolution services that are offered by Camrud, Maddock, Olson & Larson Ltd., while not limited to the mediation process, do focus primarily on mediation. Mediations are confidential. The mediator is impartial, representing neither party, and does not decide whether one party is right or wrong. The mediator does not provide legal advice or document preparation to the participants. Mediations, even when court ordered, continue only with the agreement of all parties. If, for some reason, the mediation does not resolve the dispute, nothing that is done or said in the process of mediation should be used in another proceeding. Generally, the process of mediation is informal and the rules encountered in court do not apply to mediation.
Mediation is not a process of judging, it is a process of facilitating communication.
Approaches may differ depending on the type of case involved. Each mediation is unique. At times, particularly with domestic relations cases, the mediator may conduct pre-mediation orientation sessions with the parties individually. Attorneys may be involved in the mediation session, or the parties may attend the mediations without counsel.
With appellate, business or personal injury mediations, typically specific information is provided to the mediator in advance of the mediation. If the mediation is court-ordered, there could be additional requirements put on the process, such as a date for completion of mediation.
Many of our mediations resolve in a single meeting. However, there are occasions, particularly in domestic relations mediations, where for reasons of time or to allow the parties to obtain additional information, it is necessary that the parties return for another meeting. If some of the matters have been resolved before the end of the first meeting, the issues resolved are reduced to an informal letter in the parties own language.
WHEN IS MEDIATION APPROPRIATE?
We believe mediation is appropriate in the following situations:
- When negotiations between parties are not progressing. This may happen when the parties are deadlocked, when one or more of the parties have not properly evaluated their position, or when there is a clash of personalities.
- When the legal process or the alternative of doing nothing becomes expensive. If successful, mediation will, almost always, save costs, whether legal fees, down time, loss of profits, interest costs or just the general well being of the parties.
- When time is important.
- When the parties will have an ongoing relationship after the particular dispute is resolved. A trial to a judge may resolve the dispute but seldom favorably impacts a relationship.
- When mediation appeals to all the parties, for whatever reason.
THE MEDIATION PROCESS
Mediations typically take one of two forms. Business or personal injury litigation is mediated most typically as follows:
- All parties meet together in a single room with the mediator. Everyone is introduced to one another and to the process. While not necessary, each party may then make an opening statement of their position. The mediator will suggest whether or not an opening statement may be beneficial to the process.
- Following introduction and possible opening statements, the parties are then separated into one of as many as seven private conference rooms available at Camrud, Maddock, Olson & Larson, Ltd.. The mediator then meets with each party, hears about their own review and analysis of their position or case, and then takes offers and information back and forth between the parties.
- All of the parties separately work with the mediator toward a solution and generally never meet together again until it becomes time to sign a settlement agreement if desired. A binding settlement agreement may be signed.
Domestic relations mediations are usually handled in the following manner:
- The mediator holds separate orientation sessions with each of the parties. The parties are screened for domestic violence or power imbalance issues. A decision is made by the parties as to whether attorneys will be involved in the mediation or whether the parties will use one room or two.
- The mediation is held and the parties communicate regarding their issues of conflict.
- At the close of the session, the mediator writes a letter to the parties and their counsel outlining the agreements that have been made. Each party gets a "cooling off" period to ask further questions or change their mind about decisions made in mediation. The agreements are typically considered non-binding until one of the parties has prepared a stipulation outlining the agreed terms which the parties each sign.
For the most part, mediations are successful if the parties want to resolve their differences. In some cases, the mediation ends without a settlement but a full or partial settlement is reached within a short time following the mediation. We often follow up with the parties unless they tell us they do not want us to do so.