Mediators, also referred to as “Neutrals” are specially trained individuals whose goal is to aid parties on the opposite side of a dispute attempt to resolve their difficulties without the need to go to court. This is done through an informal process called a mediation, which is a form of alternate dispute resolution (ADR). The parties are often represented by their attorneys, just as they would be in court. The mediator’s job is to nudge both sides closer to resolution as a neutral third party. The mediator represents no one and does not give any legal advice.
In Florida, almost all cases will be ordered to mediation before the court will conduct a trial (jury or non-jury). This includes family law mediation ( such as divorce / child custody – which I do not do), commercial litigation, personal injury litigation, probate litigation, and guardianship litigation. Small Claims cases have mediation using volunteers built into the process.
The mediation process consists of:
- Agreeing on a mediator
- Agreeing on the time and date for mediation
- Sending the mediator a confidential summary of the issues to be mediated (no copy to the other side)
- Appearing at the mediation (in person or via the internet using a program like Zoom)
- Typically the mediation begins with a joint session attended in person or via the internet, by all litigants, their attorneys as well as the mediator.
- The mediator will explain that the process is confidential and that the litigants may be subject to sanctions if they breach that confidentiality.
- Each side will then make short (usually less than ten minutes) oral opening statements (sometimes with exhibits or a slide show)
- The mediator will then separate the adverse groups from each other (in person or virtually) and shuttle among them in break-out meetings (caucuses).
- During the caucuses the mediator will meet with one side at a time and gain an understanding of their positions and responses to the adverse parties’ positions. The discussions during these caucuses are not repeated to the other litigants, except with permission. The mediator will work his/her way from group to group repeatedly, attempting to get the litigants to reach an agreement.
- If there is an agreement the parties, with the assistance of the mediator if desired, will reduce it to a signed settlement agreement. The agreement is an enforceable contract.
Mediation has many advantages:
Confidentiality: Unlike a trial, where personal details of the parties may become part of the public record for all to see-mediation agreements are usually confidential. (The entire process is confidential, except where disclosure is authorized or required by law). The signed agreement is not confidential, unless the parties make it so.
Impartiality: The mediator is an impartial participant, there to help the parties attempt to resolve their dispute amicably.
Speed: Cases that go to trial can take months or years to get heard by the court. Then there is always the possibility of an appeal adding another year or two.
Savings: Mediations are much less expensive than trials.
Flexibility: Instead of a judge or jury deciding your case you agree on its outcome. You are even able to agree on relief that a judge or jury would be prohibited from awarding (i.e., the outcome remains confidential, someone apologizes, a business practice changes, or some treasured item is returned).
Why hire me?
I am a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator. I am certified to help resolve disputes anywhere in Florida. The flexibility of mediation work allows me to bring a certain creativity to the process of helping two or more warring parties come to resolution of their issues. I am also very aware of the high stress levels of the parties. My mediations are efficient and low key, resulting in a high level of both client and representing attorney satisfaction, as well as cost savings for all parties concerned. Even if the issue to be mediated is outside of my fields of practice as a lawyer, I can conduct the mediation. Since reaching an agreement in mediation is more about the people involved than the legal issues, and since the mediator makes no substantive decisions, I can have the parties explain their positions and try to help them move towards each other and an agreed resolution.
Currently, because of COVID-19, all of my mediations are conducted remotely via Zoom.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
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