My name is Glenn Meier and I am happy to be contributing a series of guest posts for Gina’s blog. These posts are inspired by one of the first posts I ever read on Gina’s blog, a post entitled, “Someone Owes Me Money – What Are My Options?” In that post, Gina doses out her usual serving of good, practical, and common sense advice. She wisely recommends that prior to initiating a formal lawsuit you send a written demand for the money your owed. She also says that your next step if that demand goes unanswered is to file a lawsuit.
I agree with Gina that the traditional next step in pursuing money a business is owed is to file a lawsuit. However, in recent years additional alternatives have arisen. Those alternatives are important because the cost of litigation is immense. Let’s say you have someone who owes you $75,000. Now this is an amount of money that is just too big to walk away from. The reality though is that if you file a lawsuit for this amount and the opposing side mounts any sort of defense you may well spend that much or more to get the case to trial in court (and your opponent will be doing the same).
What if I told you that there was a method to approach that dispute that was cheaper, quicker, and let you take more control over the outcome? There are actually several methods, but over a series of posts, I’m going to discuss the option of mediation. This post will discuss what mediation is. Next time, I’ll talk about why you may want to use mediation. Finally, I’ll discuss some practical tips for how you can employ mediation as a tool to solve disputes. I gave a more detailed explanation of what mediation involves in the inaugural post of my mediation blog which you can find here. If you are intrigued by the subject of mediation then feel free to check back there regularly, there will be much more information to come. In general, mediation is a method of resolving disputes where the people involved enlist the help of a neutral third party, the mediator. The mediator works together with the people involved in the dispute to help them come up with their own resolution. That work can take many different forms. For example, the mediator may have all the parties in a room together and the mediator will facilitate direct discussions between them to come up with a solution. In cases that either have gone or are about to go to court it is pretty typical for the mediator to meet with the parties separately and conduct shuttle diplomacy between them to come up with a solution. Regardless of the format for the mediation though there will be nothing that comes out of the mediation unless all parties agree. That’s right, in mediation you are never forced to do something you don’t want to do. Now, you may well hear a mediator strongly recommend that you do something, but in the end, it is your decision.