The ADR Process

Mediation:
Mediation begins when the parties agree to come to the table.  They hire a mediator to serve as a facilitator in helping them arrive at a settlement which is mutually acceptable to all parties.  The mediator does not tell the parties how they are going to settle their dispute.  He merely facilitates their discussions to arrive at their own settlement.

Arbitration:
Arbitration is a separate ADR procedure, entirely different from mediation.  The arbitrator is hired by the parties to conduct an informal hearing and receive evidence.  The parties agree in advance to abide by the decision of the arbitrator and the decision is not appealable under most circumstances.  The arbitrator can be hired to render a written opinion or simply to state his decision in a letter format sent to all parties.

The mediation process:
Generally the parties come together in one room for a general caucus and each party is given an opportunity to make a presentation either by their attorney, or by the party themselves, or both.  The parties agree in advance to follow the appropriate rules of decorum and not to interrupt the person making the presentation.  The party having something to say in response should take notes and will be given the full opportunity to respond in due course.  Often emotions run high at this stage of the proceedings and sometimes the parties need to vent or “get it off of their chest”.

After the general caucus, the mediator usually separates the parties into two different rooms and meets with each side exploring the strengths and weaknesses of their case.  The mediation process involves the mediator exploring various solutions that he or the parties may bring up and then he proceeds to carry offers and demands back and forth between the rooms and helps the parties evaluate those offers and demands.

At the end of the day:
The parties having agreed with the mediator that they wish to have a negotiated solution, a memorandum of agreement will be drawn up for consideration by the parties and then signed by each of those parties as a memorandum of agreement.  Thereafter, the attorneys will reduce the memorandum of agreement to a recordable judgment and submit it to the court if appropriate.