An excellent question and the answer is a very practical one—it works. Having mediated more than 5,000 civil cases over 21 years has confirmed my belief that settlement is the best solution in almost every case.
I did not always feel that way. I first heard about mediation in 1992 and like most lawyers, I thought everything had to be thrashed out in the courtroom and that mediation was too “touchy-feely” for lawyers trained to litigate. I thought that allowing the “other side” to tell me their position was a sign of weakness on my part. Wrong. Here are some of the reasons why mediation has taken center stage in the legal arena:
- Rising costs of litigation. In a personal injury case, i.e., auto accident, plaintiff must present a medical doctor’s testimony showing the injury was caused by the accident. This evidence is obtained via a videotaped deposition which may cost from $1500 upwards.
- Uncertainty of result. Whether is a civil case, e. a commercial dispute, a contested divorce or a post-divorce matter concerning child support, there is no “sure thing” that a judge or jury will rule completely in your favor. In mediation you determine the result saving time and money.
- Time. Repeating for emphasis--time. Unless you have been through the meat grinder of civil or divorce litigation, you cannot fathom how long cases take to wind their way through the courts. The time element may be the most important factor in deciding to mediate a case. For example, a typical auto accident case, even when liability is admitted and the only issue to be decided is damages, may take a minimum of two years to reach trial. Divorce matters are the same. As with taking the decision-making out of the court's hands, choosing mediation allows you to set your own timetable.