If you or your business experiences a dispute — a contract dispute, an employee dispute, or even a consumer dispute — it may be tempting to file a lawsuit. You believe you are right and that the court system will vindicate you! Yet, there is another option to consider, and that option is mediation — the process by which a neutral third party helps you and the other party reach resolution. The choice of mediation may save you time and money, will allow you to avoid negative publicity, gives you the option of creating an agreement that works for you, and allows you the opportunity to repair an important relationship.

Cost-saving and time saving If you file a lawsuit, you must be prepared to wait. The court system moves slowly; many cases last for years and at $200 an hour (or more), legal fees can be staggering. In addition, litigation demands your time — in legal meetings, court appearances, and depositions — time that could be better spent running your business and working. In contrast, mediation moves fairly swiftly. If one mediator is not available, you are likely to find another who is. And although a complex mediation may require several sessions, such sessions are likely to conclude far sooner than a court case, and at much lower expense.

Confidentiality When facing a lawsuit, you can face damaging publicity since court records are public. Mediation, on the other hand, is a confidential process, and the public has no access to mediation records. The confidential aspect of mediation is important for another reason: it allows people to speak openly and candidly, knowing that their statements cannot be publicized. When people feel the freedom to be honest, they are more likely to reach an agreement.

Creative Agreements When you are a party to a lawsuit, you are at the mercy of the court. It is the judge or jury who decides and only one party wins. In addition, often judges are limited in terms of what they can order. In many cases it is a money judgment only. Even if your lawsuit settles, the settlement is not likely to be fully satisfactory. In mediation, on the other hand, you and the other party are masters of your own destinies. With the aid of the mediator, you can create your own agreement and there are no limitations regarding the structure of the agreement. It can involve money, it can involve the transfer of property, it can involve an exchange of services, or perhaps a new contract. The sky is the limit.

Repaired Relationships Once a lawsuit has been filed, the damage is done. Litigation is a slug fest; accusations are made and tempers flare. In such an environment it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to repair the relationship between you and the other party. In contrast, because of the nature of mediation, which involves collaboration in a calm environment, relationships can be repaired and can begin anew. In the case of a valuable business partner, a valued employee, or a long-time friend, a repaired relationship is priceless.

The next time you are involved in a difficult conflict or dispute, consider mediation as an alternative to litigation. It may save you time, money, and heart-ache.

About The Author:

Selden Prentice is a professional Seattle mediator who helps resolve disputes between and within businesses in a timely and cost-effective manner. For more information about Selden and her services, see her website here: http://www.MediatorSeattle.com

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