The Mediation Process
MEDIATION: AN EFFECTIVE MEANS OF SETTLING A DISPUTE
Mediation is a form of settlement negotiation conducted and assisted by an impartial person trained in the art of settling disputes. Unlike arbitration and other kinds of alternative dispute resolution, mediation is non-adjudicatory. The mediator makes no findings of fact or law, whether binding or non-binding.
The mediation process, a private meeting, comprises three stages. First, all parties and their counsel meet with the mediator in a general session. During this session, the mediator explains the process and sets forth the ground rules. Afterward, each attorney outlines his or her client’s theory of the case and the legal and factual issues, The clients are encouraged to speak, but are not required to do so. The mediator asks clarifying questions, determines areas of agreement, and inquires as to the status of prior settlement negotiations.
After the general session, the parties separate into different conference rooms for private meetings called caucuses; this is second stage of mediation. These caucuses are confidential. Anything said to the mediator during a caucus cannot be repeated outside the caucus except by express permission of the party. This confidential meeting allows counsel to express matters that he or she would be unwilling to state in the presence of opposing counsel. Here, the mediator, the party and counsel undertake a candid discussion of risks, the party’s interests sought to be protected, settlement flexibility, and strengths and weaknesses of the case. At some point during the caucus process the mediator will begin serving as a shuttle diplomat between the parties, conveying settlement offers back and forth.
Rules & Fees
Most mediations require only one day and, typically, cost no more than a single deposition. Some mediators charge an hourly fee, and others charge a flat daily rate that varies according to the amount in controversy, nature of the dispute and the number of parties.
Full Day Mediation Fees
- $1,500.00 per party
- The mediation fee includes lunch, drinks, snacks, and free parking
- Full Day Mediation commences at 9:30 a.m and concludes 5:00 p.m
- Additional time billed at $200/per hour, per party, after 5:30 p.m.
Half Day Mediation Fees
- $750.00 per party
- The mediation fee includes drinks, snacks, and free parking.
- Morning sessions commence at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 1:00 p.m.
- Afternoon sessions commence at 1:30 p.m. and conclude at 5:00 p.m.
- Evening mediations commence at 5:30 p.m. and conclude at 9:00 p.m.
There is convenient parking located around the building.
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When it appears that a consensus has been reached, the mediator brings the parties back together, figuratively and/or literally, for the third stage: closure. The mediator assists the parties in memorializing the essential terms of the agreement, signed by each party.
The entire proceeding is privileged and confidential. Indeed, the law prohibits the mediator or any party from telling the court anything said during the mediation. At most, the mediator may report that the case did or did not settle. See Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 154; Tex. R. Evid. 604.