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Should You Mediate Your Lawsuit?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 11, 2012 7:02 AM

So, you've filed a lawsuit, or perhaps you're thinking about filing one. But you've heard of this thing called alternative dispute resolution, or mediation. It's growing in popularity and offers an alternative way to work out your differences.

Now you just need to make a decision. Should you mediate or sue? Or if you've sued, should you put litigation on hold and mediate your lawsuit?

It depends, but the reality is that very few lawsuits actually make it all the way to trial. Most legal disputes settle, whether through mediation or not. But with budget cuts and crowded dockets, you may not have an option. Courts are now starting to mandate mediation as part of the pretrial process.

Even if you aren't ordered to mediate, there are still some very good reasons to mediate your lawsuit or to mediate before you sue. The first of these reasons is cost.

Mediation isn't necessarily cheap, but it's a lot cheaper than litigation. Trials are long and pricey, meaning little instantaneous satisfaction and large legal bills. Mediation helps with both of these.

Mediation also gives you the opportunity to scope out your opponent. You'll both lay out your cases, and with the help of the neutral mediator or your attorney, you can really evaluate whether it's better to sue, settle or litigate.

The process can also be cathartic. Though we're often loathe to admit it, sometimes we can't let go until the other side has heard our story. Sometimes we want an apology, too. Mediation is more likely to give you this than litigation, where no one likes to listen and no one wants to apologize.

Whether you mediate or sue, or mediate your lawsuit, ultimately depends on your situation and what you want from the other side. And keep in mind that if it doesn't work out, you can always go to court.

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