Rhode Island Bar Journal
56 RI Bar J., No. 6, Pg. 25.
Let Mediation Put You In The Driver's Seat
Rhode Island Bar JournalMay/June 2008 Volume 56, No. 6, Pg. 25 Let Mediation Put You In The Driver's SeatMadeleine Butterfield Bass, Esq.Practices from Bass Law Offices, LLC in ProvidenceWhen I noted my desire to focus my practice on alternative dispute resolution, a law professor told me "Mediators are lawyers who are afraid to litigate." Ignoring the glaring and erroneous generalization, his sentiments sounded like a challenge. Sure, litigation can be exciting, challenging and rewarding. Litigation is the thrill seeking side of the law. So, why would an attorney seek to resolve disputes in any other way? Control, of course!
Litigation is a wild ride, but, ultimately, it's the judge who is in the driver's seat. A litigator can draw the map and explain why their way is the fastest, the most direct or the most scenic route. They can even advocate off-road travel. But, in the end, the judge decides the direction, the speed and the arrival time. The litigators and their clients are stuck in the back seat.
Mediation allows attorneys and their clients to take turns choosing the itinerary and speed of the trip. If one side has a deadline and the other has a side trip they want to make, they can all work together to make it happen so that both sides get as close as possible to what they want and need. This travel metaphor has probably reached the end of the road, so the following is a list of just some of the reasons why you should try mediation first for your next client's dispute.
The Principle of the Thing
How many of us have heard this? Everyone has had clients who want to aggressively pursue litigation in a case that really doesn't warrant it. I've had a client who wanted to fight a claim, even after I informed him that he would most likely spend more on legal fees than the amount of the suit. Usually those cases are all about anger and feelings of being wronged. A court cannot really ease those emotions though, admittedly, winning a healthy judgment can feel like vindication. On the other hand, a capable neutral can help both sides express their feelings and explain their respective positions. In many cases, the opportunity to be heard by the other side is sufficient to help the parties move past the roadblock and...