Has your lawyer or employer suggested mediation of your legal case or conflict? Understanding what mediation is (and is not) is the first step to an informed decision. 

Empowerment & Recognition 

Mediation is generally defined as an informal process in which a neutral party with no power to impose a resolution helps the disputing parties try to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. While this quick definition describes the major features of the process, it does not in my view, fully account for the potential that mediation has of transforming people.  

By the mediator helping the parties wrestle with difficult circumstances and bridge differences in the midst of conflict, mediation has the potential to provide the parties with a sense of empowerment and recognition. Empowerment comes from restoring the parties’ confidence in their ability to resolve their own issues. Recognition comes from the impartial listening by the mediator, and it is often the by-product of the process itself, when the parties acknowledge the view of each other.

A Day Dedicated to Sorting Things Out 

My years of practice as in-house counsel, head of employee relations and lawyer in private practice, had me attend multiple mediations. On some, I have been counsel for one of the parties. On some, I have been a party. Recently, I started a mediation practice. What I enjoyed the most out of mediations as a party or counsel, is the fact that it is a day dedicated to sorting things out.  

Lingering conflict finally has a forum – a time and a place – to be dealt with. And even when there was no settlement, much can be accomplished by understanding the other side’s view of the issues and uncovering the interests behind their requests. As a mediator, what I enjoy the most is the unfolding of interests and seeing the parties through to the other side of conflict. I particularly enjoy when creative and unexpected solutions are proposed, and when there are wholehearted efforts at reaching a settlement.  

Mediators are Not Judges 

One thing you will not get from a mediation is a decision by the mediator about who is right and who is wrong. Judges decide disputes and make decisions. Mediators facilitate negotiations and agreements between the parties. This is a key difference to understand before agreeing to mediate – there is no winner and no looser. 

Thinking about mediation? Forte Workplace Law has a growing mediation practice. Contact us for details on our offerings and availability: [email protected] or call us 604-535-7063. This blog is not intended to serve as legal advice, and only provides general information. 

Catalina Rodriguez is a workplace investigator, mediator, and counsel to both employers and employees.  

This blog is not intended to serve as legal advice, and only provides general information. Every situation must be considered on its own facts. Need legal advice? Contact us by phone at 604 535-7063 or email [email protected].

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