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.
In prior posts (Mediation as an Option, Why Business Owners Benefit from Mediation) I’ve discussed just what mediation is and also some of the benefits that parties can realize by mediating their disputes. In this post we’ll cover some nuts and bolts tips for how to get your case in mediation. First, since mediation is a voluntary process, you have to get everybody involved to agree to participate. An excellent way to open the door on the subject is to include an offer to mediate in the written demand you send the other side. If you do so, you should point out that mediation is generally much quicker, cheaper and takes fewer tolls on the parties then going to court. Explain to the other side that you would prefer to resolve the conflict at the lowest level possible so that everyone can get on with their business as quickly as possible.
Next, you will need to select a mediator. If you have counsel involved in the case, they will often take the lead in selecting a mediator, but you should feel free to give your input as well. If you are proceeding without counsel, mediate.com is a web site that lists mediators throughout the country. You can search there for mediators who will serve Las Vegas. You can also obtain mediation referrals by contacting the Nevada Mediation Group which is made up of Nevada mediators with a wide range of backgrounds and specialties (full disclosure, I am one of the founding members of NMG). If you are selecting a mediator on your own you should ask about their training and experience in mediation as well as their general experience to make sure they are well suited to your particular dispute.
Once you’ve arranged for your mediation you’ll need to prepare for it. How do you do that? The best way to start is to review the issue as thoroughly and objectively as possible. You should look for areas where your case is not as strong as you might think (trust me, those areas are always there). The reason it is so important to be objective is that you (and the party on the other side) will likely need to have a shift in your position in order to get a case resolved. The good news is that mediators are trained in working with people to get to the root of their issues and that process frequently allows people to adjust their positions. I have seen it many times; someone walks into a mediation saying that they will never pay more than a certain amount to resolve the case, but then after working hard to look at the case with the mediator’s help, they will come to see that a different position is actually in their best interests.
Mediation is a very powerful, flexible and empowering tool to use in helping people resolve disputes that might otherwise drag on far too long and cost them way too much. If you find yourself in a dispute and think mediation might be a good option for you, then by all means try it out.