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How to Succeed in Mediation

Mediation is a cost-effective way to resolve many business disputes without filing a lawsuit. Rather than going to court, the parties present their dispute to a mediator, who then helps them come up with a mutually-agreeable resolution. While the outcome is non-binding, it may adequately resolve the issues. This makes mediation a popular alternative dispute resolution model for businesses in Massachusetts, particularly small businesses.

Actually getting what you want in mediation is not always easy, though. Here are four things to keep in mind if you want to succeed, according to the business and contract lawyers at the Katz Law Group.

1. Know What You Want Before You Start Mediation

If you head into mediation without a clear understanding of what a good outcome would be for you or your business, then it is impossible to pursue that goal. Furthermore, it is not enough to just try to “win” the case – you need to have a solid idea of what “winning” would mean for you.

Generally, this means figuring out what, exactly, your interests are in the case.

If you are trying to get out of a commercial lease, for example, then the goal would probably be to persuade your commercial landlord to terminate the agreement and let you go without paying a penalty. In more complex disputes, this can be far more difficult to do.

2. Come Up With Acceptable Outcomes

Once you know what your interests are, the next step is to get an idea of how much you are willing to compromise on them. Mediation is all about compromising, and it is incredibly rare for disputants to come out of the process with everything that they want and no setbacks.

In the commercial lease example, this can mean deciding how much you would be willing to pay to your landlord in order to end the case, or what other steps you would be willing to take in order to reduce those financial payments, like finding a subletter for the premises.

3. Be Open to Creative Solutions

One of the best parts about mediation is the opportunity for the parties to come up with a way to resolve their disputes that would not be possible in a more formal setting. There are very few limitations in the mediation process, so as long as you and the other party are willing to try a novel approach to the problem, then it can work out.

The problem, of course, is whether you trust the other party to fulfill their obligations in this new arrangement. Making everyone's obligations very clear is extremely important, and the penalties for nonperformance should be made explicit.

4. Take the Process Seriously

One of the biggest and most common mistakes that people make in mediation is to not take the process seriously. It is easy to do, precisely because it does not have the formality of litigation. Unfortunately, this undermines the process and its key benefits – it saves you time, money, and stress.

You can take mediation seriously by:

  • Leaving your emotions at the door
  • Engaging in good faith
  • Treating the process as a problem-solving opportunity
  • Being willing to compromise in order to end the dispute

Massachusetts Business Lawyers at the Katz Law Group With Experience in Mediation

The business attorneys at the Katz Law Group have nearly four decades of helping businesses and their decision-makers resolve complex disputes through mediation. Contact them online or call their law office at (508) 480-8202.

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