Mediation Without Lawyers
Can anyone use mediation?
Generally speaking, yes, so long as all parties agree. There are only a few instances where mediation is not permitted or may not be advised.
When can mediation be helpful?
Mediation can be helpful at any stage of dispute, including before suit is filed.
How do I get the other party to agree to mediate?
If your dispute arises out of a contract or a document that has an alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation) clause it likely directs how to go about requesting mediation. In the absence of any such direction or if your dispute is not based on a contract you and the other party can request a joint call with Key Mediation. (Providing them with our website address may help to answer potential questions about mediation and Key mediators, as well as provide our contact information). If you are uncertain as to how to proceed, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney.
Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to mediate a matter, but in some cases parties may wish to have lawyers present. Parties typically agree in advance of the mediation whether lawyers will attend with them.
When parties to a divorce mediation reach an agreement, parties are strongly encouraged to have an attorney review the written agreement prior to filing.
How is the mediation scheduled?
Once we confirm all parties are willing to participate, we will determine whether the parties prefer to meet in person or virtually and whether they would like to book an open-ended hourly timeframe, half day mediation or full day mediation. We will then send the parties an Agreement To Mediate. Upon receipt of that signed Agreement and the required retainer fee, the mediation will be scheduled for a date and time that is mutually convenient for all parties.
How long does it usually take?
Depending upon the complexity of the dispute we normally set aside at least a half-day. Some matters may resolve more quickly than that, while in some instances, another session may be necessary. Additional sessions are only scheduled if both parties agree.
What do I need to do before mediation?
The mediator will outline for the parties anything that is helpful in advance of the mediation to either exchange with the other party or share with the mediator.
What happens during mediation?
We gather either in person or virtually, the mediator establishes procedures and each side gets to discuss and/or present anything they believe is important to resolution of the dispute. The mediator controls the process and guides the discussion, but all resolution is collaborative. Mediation is confidential. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator will not decide your case for you. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft a Mediation Agreement with the parties during a session, which the parties may opt to sign or take to legal counsel for review.
Is it better to do mediation in person or virtually?
Provided there are no governmental orders limiting in-person gatherings, we can accommodate both and it is a matter of personal preference of the parties. Some parties prefer the convenience of the remote mediation while some prefer the in-person interaction. In-person mediations are conducted at our 650 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown offices. Mediators may also be willing to travel to other mutually agreed upon locations. Virtual mediations are conducted using Zoom. You do not need to have a Zoom account although you do need to download or launch it. In our experience, remote and in-person mediations are equally effective.
How much does it cost?
Generally speaking, a half-day session is $1250, which is usually split equally by the parties (i.e. $625 each) and includes:
- All premediation communication with parties and/or others;
- Document review, if applicable;
- Mediation – then, if successful,
- Preparation of a Draft agreement, revisions and final Mediation Agreement.
If the Agreement is required to be filed in any RI or MA court or agency, while we are lawyers, as mediators in your matter we are not ethically able to file. We strongly advise you take your Mediation Agreement to an attorney to review and file on your behalf.
Mediation With Lawyers
What kinds of matters does Key mediate?
Our trained mediators are also lawyers with 40+ years combined substantive legal practice in the areas of litigation, contracts, probate, employment, education, land use, real estate, divorce, commercial and lease disputes and construction disputes. For information about our mediators, see our Team page.
Why should we consider mediation instead of arbitration or going to trial?
Consider mediation if you and your client are seeking a cost-effective less formal process and want to be involved in shaping the outcome. Mediation also offers an opportunity for resolution that is typically less time intensive and costly than arbitration. Though the parties may choose to bring experts to a mediation, that is not necessary.
Make sure your client understands that mediation will not give them their “day in court” but will give them an opportunity to share what is important to them and have a say in the outcome. Conversely, if you or your client is looking for a decision, you will likely be better off choosing arbitration.
Mediation is an excellent option if your client wishes to preserve or maintain a relationship in some manner with the other party.
Is there an optimal time in the lifecycle of a dispute to pursue mediation?
Not generally speaking, but in any specific case client frustration with the expense of time and money and concern about an unknown outcome can serve as catalysts. A case at a point where an investment of legal time will be required, e.g. brief, hearing, discovery, or a one that seems “stuck” or is languishing for unknown reasons may be a good candidate for mediation.
What is the best way to prepare for mediation?
Mediation offers the best chance of resolution when attorneys spend some time to prepare their clients and review the specifics of the case, not for the benefit of the mediator, but for the benefit of reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of their case, evidentiary issues, legal claims and range of settlement expectations.
- Discuss with your client goals and expectations for mediation, both monetary and otherwise. and get on the same page with him/her.
- Make sure your client is comfortable speaking about his/her case. The mediator usually wants to hear from the parties directly at some point during the mediation.
- Prioritize issues and be willing to consider or propose constructive approaches that may not be available at trial or arbitration.
Do you conduct joint sessions at the beginning?
We prefer them and use them often, but not in every case. The mediator may seek your input on this decision.
As counsel, how can I enhance the likelihood of reaching an agreement in mediation?
Treat the mediation as an opportunity to achieve your client’s desired outcome and prepare accordingly.
- Before the mediation session, be frank with the mediator about facts and circumstances and anything that could be an obstacle to reaching agreement. Surprises at mediation cost time and money.
- Draft a short concise premediation statement (not a brief or argument) outlining and prioritizing issues for resolution for the mediator. We recommend however that you direct your statement to the other side and its opposing counsel and consider permitting the mediator to share it with them. This is your chance to speak directly to them. This step usually advances the mediation to a more productive place from the outset. You may however, always request that your mediation statement not be shared with the opposing party and counsel.
- During the mediation help your client by representing his/her interests with a constructive and forward-thinking mindset. You are not arguing your case and presenting why you believe your client is right, you are helping to propose and craft a solution that satisfies your client’s interests and objectives.
Who drafts the Mediation Agreement?
Where parties are represented by counsel who will presumably review any Mediation Agreement before execution, counsel generally drafts a term sheet or an Agreement using the agreed statements and terms arrived at during the mediation sessions(s).
Who pays for mediation?
Typically, parties split fees and costs evenly, unless they agree otherwise. We offer half, full and multi-day options.