Mediation is an informal dispute resolution process that takes place outside of the court system. It is typically a less expensive and faster alternative to a lawsuit. It helps parties understand each other’s point of view and enables the discovery of new options to resolve a case.

Mediation can be used in civil cases of all kinds, including personal injury and business disputes, employment matters, insurance, real estate and construction cases, family law issues and many others. A court may require that a case be mediated prior to trial. Other times, a party may voluntarily agree to mediation. Mediation can occur in court, at a private facility or over the telephone.

During the mediation process, the mediator acts as an impartial facilitator and works to facilitate discussion and compromise. During the mediation process, the mediator encourages the parties to think outside the box for possible solutions to their dispute. The mediation is a confidential process that allows the parties to discuss sensitive information without the risk of public exposure.

A mediation will usually begin with all participants meeting together in the same room, called a joint session. The mediator will then ask each participant to identify their strengths and weaknesses, what they want to accomplish through the settlement and any economic and non-economic damages. After the joint session, the mediator will often move to a separate private meeting with each party, known as a caucus.

It is important to come to mediation prepared. Participants should review all the issues involved in their case or dispute. Those participating in the mediation should have a clear understanding of their own goals for resolution and be open to flexible options that are available through mediation. Participants should not come to mediation with a predetermined “bottom line.” This can be a costly mistake.