The Closer

A Mediation Newsletter June 2012

The Business of Mediation
by James Rainwater

Mediation is the quintessential roll-up-your-sleeves and get-down-to-business branch of the legal profession. This is where the rubber meets the road and the deal gets done. Before I launch into another salvo of business aphorisms, allow me to say that I believe mediation offers the best of both the legal and business worlds.

While some attorneys bemoan the mandate of mediation, many others welcome it - and for good reason. Mediation takes care of business and quite often disposes of a pending matter. Successful settlement conferences generally have one thing in common: The attorneys and parties have a healthy belief in the credibility and reliability of mediation.

A qualified mediator should act more like a business consultant than an arbitrator. Agreed settlement focuses on the practicalities of resolving the case rather than the legalities that can be tossed down like roadblocks on a racecourse. The mediator navigates the parties around any obstacles, keeping their focus and energies on reaching an agreement.

Once attorneys get onboard this school of thought, their efforts can be more effective, regardless of the type of case - family law, contract dispute, personal injury, etc. With a businesslike approach, perhaps, we can reduce some of the emotional turmoil and posturing hubris of the matter. I am not suggesting that all parties take on robotic personalities. However, I am condoning a business-centered, common sense-focused manner of resolution interaction.

Be it a solo practitioner or five guys from Houston, treating your opposing counsel as a business colleague can go far in reaching an agreement. With your mediator as a neutral "resolution consultant", your time spent in the mediation conference should be its most productive and successful. We all have busy schedules, and approaching your next mediation as a business conference will likely achieve the positive results you and your client desire.

Rainwater Law