For most people, the need to consult a litigation lawyer brings up a feeling akin to the need to get a root canal on your front tooth. You know it will hurt (including at your hip pocket), it is unpleasant, time consuming, but… unavoidable. So it is most refreshing to hear a lawyer professing that his every effort is to keep you away from litigation.
Last Wednesday, Farley Tolpen presented on how to stay out of court. A lawyer for 36 years specialising in Mediation, his aim is to resolve a dispute amicably, rather than confrontationally. Why would Mediation work better? Well, for a start, it is faster than litigation, typically completed within 30 days. Therefore, it is less expensive – on average, about 9 hours of his time will sort it out. But most importantly, the outcome is agreed to by both parties, the conflict is resolved and thus there is a high chance that the relationship between the parties is retained and even improved. And all that contributes to you retaining your sanity.  There are other benefits: Staying out of court, confidentiality is retained, the process is not intimidating, and your chances of an agreed resolution are around 90%.
So how does it work? Initially, there are several serious telephone discussions, individually with both parties, so the Mediator can become totally familiar with each side’s position. All discussions are subject to confidentiality. The aim is to build rapport, to have a clear understanding of each side’s grievances. The Mediator will then arrange pre-mediation meetings, both private and jointly.  The aim is to obtain an agreement to mediate. Goals of what each party tries to achieve are set. In addition to the knowledge of the law, a Mediator must master various techniques and skills, particularly in relation to active listening, being non-judgmental, empathetic. As an example, Farley mentioned the 1970’s Detective Show ‘Columbo’: “I don’t quite understand… can you explain that again?” So, instead of saying “See you in court!!”, perhaps think “Let’s call Farley”. Click on this link to go to his website.  Photo: Farley accepts his "Speaker's Reward", a uniquely labelled bottle of red, from Gerald East.