Coming off the successful resolution of a contentious dispute that resulted in the resolution of two ongoing lawsuits through an all-day mediation with a seasoned mediator, I am reminded of the power of mediation.

An oft overlooked option in a lawyer’s toolkit, mediation can be an effective method to resolve a dispute either during the course of an ongoing lawsuit, or before you embark down that road.

Mediation is a voluntary process, and while the mediator provides an objective view of the merits (where the lawyers may be inherently biased despite their best efforts to play devil’s advocate with the facts) the parties decide whether a resolution is to be had, one is not imposed upon them.

Frequently clients hold out little hope that mediation will resolve their dispute, particularly when they are forced to mediate as a precursor to filing a lawsuit (through a contractual clause previously agreed to).

But, rather than view the exercise as a waste of time and money, if clients participate meaningfully in the mediation process it can do a number of things. The process may amicably resolve the matter, but even if it does not, it can educate the parties on the claims or defenses of the other side, and may provide a glimpse into the credibility of opposing parties and witnesses.

Like anything else in life, the more you put into it, the more you get out.   If you approach mediation with a positive and open attitude, the process may surprise you.