There are not too many people who enjoy being parties in a lawsuit. Sometimes, there is no choice. People and businesses have a disagreement, oftentimes involving money, and when one side or the other is not willing to “give in” or try to reach an agreement, litigation is the last resort.
Litigation may be the last option amidst a dispute. In other situations, such as divorce, it is the only option. A lawsuit must be filed in order for parties to be divorced. Once litigation begins, I think most people can agree, the sooner the matter is over, the better.
Litigation is time consuming. Most people already have a limited amount of time. Once litigation begins, this becomes another significant time commitment. It’s not time in court I am talking about. It’s the time meeting with your attorney, time gathering and preparing documents and the time your spend thinking about the lawsuit.
Litigation is expensive. Attorneys and time away from work may only be the tip of the iceberg. And, if you want a trial, it may be months or years before you get in the courtroom.
Fortunately, there is another option to resolving a legal dispute. That option is mediation.
Mediation is non-binding. If you don’t work the case out at mediation, you can still get your day in court. Mediation can save thousands of dollars in litigation costs. Mediation can save months and sometimes years of time otherwise spent in litigation. People are oftentimes more comfortable in a mediation rather than trial. Mediations usually take place in an attorney’s or the mediator’s office. Trial? No choice, it’s in the courtroom. Each party gets to significantly contribute to the “flow” of the mediation unlike a trial where you get to ask witnesses questions and the attorneys and parties are confined to what may be introduced due to Rules of Evidence and other applicable rules. Legal issues may be discussed at mediation. Relevant points of each case are discussed. Oftentimes, somewhere in the middle of the dispute, common ground can be reached and the lawsuit can be settled at mediation.
Mediation works. There is no doubt about it. It does not work in every case. But, in my experience, mediation works more than it does not. Each case is different, so each case will be ready for mediation at different stages of litigation.
Tommy Santel is a co-founding partner of Parkerson Santel PLLC. Tommy is a former government prosecutor. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. Tommy’s practice areas include criminal defense and civil litigation.
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