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Why a Mediator’s Approach Can Make All the Difference

Considering that even a significant number of attorneys remain relatively unfamiliar with mediation, it should come as no surprise that the parties themselves rarely have a strong initial grasp of what to expect from the professional overseeing the process. In fact, mediators are characterized by a diverse set of philosophies and approaches, though three main categories seem to predominate.

Mediation professionals come from a wide array of educational backgrounds and may have attained credentials from one or more formal accreditation organizations. Ultimately, a lawyer and his or her client should carefully assess their objectives for the mediation and try to select a professional with whom they are comfortable.

The Evaluative Mediator

Parties to a dispute who expect a mediator to provide a disinterested, third-party view of the disagreement at issue will likely tend toward choosing an evaluative mediation professional. Such an individual may be selected in order to provide a sort of handicap for a case, in essence predicting the likelihood that a given side will prevail in litigation.

This sort of mediation is viewed by some as a kind of test run used to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of a case in advance of an eventual trial. However, this type of process, in which the mediator does not engage deeply with the critical issues and questions of the case, is unlikely to do much with regard to facilitating a mutually agreeable resolution.

Facilitative Mediation

In a process overseen by a facilitative mediator, the parties will be brought together in order to give a comprehensive airing to both sides of the dispute. Such a professional will work to identify the underlying motivations behind each position and assist with the development of potential solutions.

Though this approach is valuable in that it places an emphasis on an exchange of information between the parties, facilitative mediators do not customarily offer opinions on likely litigation outcomes or advice about how to proceed. For these reasons, a third, more global mediation technique may in fact prove most effective in fostering enduring, mutually acceptable resolutions.

The Interventionalist

Arguably the most thoroughly involved of the three main types of mediation professionals, the interventionist is someone willing to jump into a discussion with both feet, assimilate a great deal of information about the underlying issues and isolate the hurdles standing in the way of resolution and a resumption of business as usual for both sides.

An interventionist mediator knows all too well how costly and counterproductive ongoing litigation will surely be for the parties to all sorts of disputes, large or small, that might otherwise result in an expensive, protracted, litigation battle. For these reasons, the interventionist will ask questions, assess body language, find common ground and ultimately narrow the outstanding issues to a manageable number.

To gain a better understanding of the benefits an interventionalist mediation professional can offer your client, contact us online or call us at 925-407-2080. We look forward to helping you put the power of collaboration to work in order to achieve resolution to a wide range of client disputes.


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