We resolve disputes.
Some cases just need a trial. It sometimes happens that sincere, honest disputes about claims, values, evidence, the law or the facts leave litigants and their lawyers no choice but to let a jury resolve what they cannot. This is the American way, a system of civil justice defined in our constitutions and statutes, and played out daily in our courtrooms for two and one-half centuries, even since Colonial days.
But there are other ways, too. Many, in fact the vast majority of claims and lawsuits, are resolved without jury trials via direct negotiations or through arbitration or mediation.
Arbitrations vary according to their purpose, but in general, they are mini-trials: Cases are presented to individuals (“arbiters” or “arbitrators”) who are selected by the parties because of their special background, training or experience. The arbitrators’ backgrounds make for expedited, therefore generally less expensive, case presentation, often with more predictable results.
Mediation on the other hand allows the parties to craft their own solution or “settlement”, with the assistance of a neutral intermediary. Unlike arbitration or jury trial, where someone else decides the outcome, mediation is self-directed: Litigants and their lawyers make the decisions, not strangers. Also unlike arbitrations and trials which produce “winners” and “losers”, a successful mediation creates only compromised, settled cases.
For additional information about mediation see More on Mediation; or, for even more detail and the rules governing the process, A Win Without Losers: Risk Free Assessment Through Mediation, authored by Mark Catron.