I almost always recommend mediation as an option to get a case resolved. Mediation is a voluntary process where the parties come together to try to resolve their case with the help of a trained, unbiased third party, i.e., a mediator. In mediation, resolving the case is not mandatory which means that you might engage in mediation and not resolve your case at the mediation. But, in my experience, most cases that go to mediation resolve in mediation. Or, some cases resolve after the mediation because the mediation got the parties talking about resolution and that dialogue continued until the case was resolved.
Most courts require some sort of alternative dispute resolution while the lawsuit is pending. In Arizona state and federal courts, the court will appoint a mediator to a case at no cost to the parties. Some people choose this option because it’s a free way to try to get a case resolved. In some situations, the parties opt to pay for mediation so they can choose the person who will serve as mediator. A typical mediator in Arizona might charge about $400 per hour. A full day mediation including preparation time could run around $4,000-$5,000. That cost is generally split equally between the parties. If you do a cost/benefit analysis, paying $2,000-$2,500 for mediation versus spending 10 times that or more in litigation is a more cost-effective option than pursuing a case through trial where chances of prevailing are 50/50.
A dispute between two parties can also settle before litigation ever begins. Over the years, we have settled many potential lawsuits just by communicating with the other side prior to the lawsuit being filed. In those cases, mediation wasn’t necessary. But, for cases that don’t resolve before a lawsuit is filed, mediation is a great option. Why? Because it’s a more cost effective and faster way to resolve a dispute.
Written by Attorney Lori Brown.
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