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Mediation: Does It Really Work?


To the public, mediation is a lesser-known area of legal practice. After all, there are television shows dedicated to courtroom antics, but mediation has not been as visibly thrust into the limelight as an alternative to litigation.

In my practice, people sometimes approach me with questions about how well mediation works. After all, in the case of a dispute, how likely is it that you can look into the eyes of a person who has wronged you, and then walk away feeling satisfied? With court and all of its procedural protections, people sometimes wonder whether they might be missing out by opting to resolve their issues through mediation instead.

In my experience as an attorney and a mediator, I can tell you that mediation does work. It can save time, money and headaches, and allows both parties to come to resolutions themselves, rather than with the input of a third-party decision-maker. I have mediated dozens of cases, and I believe the results are usually more positive for both parties than those results that have arisen as a result of litigation.

One of the most interesting facets of mediation is that it is completely voluntary and non-binding. Which means that if the parties can’t come to a decision, they can still go the route of litigation as needed. But often, I find that the parties do not need to take that route because they are empowered to come to the resolution on their own terms. In addition, they are more likely to adhere to the terms of the resolution.

The American Arbitration Association reports that over 85% of all mediations result in settlement. This is an astoundingly high number, showing that months, if not years, of litigation can be prevented if the parties are willing to discuss their concerns and feelings.

As people continue to grow aware of the benefits of mediation, it is likely that more disputes will be resolved in this fashion. The bottom line is that mediation works, and it works because the parties can make it work.

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