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Mediation FAQs

Ventura County Attorney Skilled in Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation can provide a viable alternative to litigation, depending on the situation. Ventura County lawyer Steve A. Buchwalter represents clients in mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. With more than 20 years of experience handling complex cases, Mr. Buchwalter is an effective negotiator who can represent your interests in business, securities, and employment disputes.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process through which parties in dispute meet with a neutral party, a mediator, to find a mutually beneficial resolution to their conflict. It is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

What is the Difference between Mediation and Arbitration?

Mediation and arbitration are both forms of ADR, but they differ in key ways. In mediation, the parties agree to work, in good faith, toward a resolution that is agreeable to both. The mediator helps the parties reach a solution, but he or she does not decide in favor of one party or the other. The parties reach a resolution voluntarily. In California, they are only bound to a resolution if they enter into a written settlement agreement, or meet certain requirements if it is an oral agreement.

Arbitration differs from mediation in that the third party, an arbitrator, ultimately decides the issue. The arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) acts like a private judge, listening to and reviewing the information presented by the parties. In most cases, an arbitrator’s decision is binding, meaning that it can only be appealed under very narrow circumstances.

What is the Mediation Process Like?

Mediation is more flexible and informal than litigation or arbitration. The parties will select a mediator, or a court may appoint one if the parties have previously agreed to mediation. The parties then schedule their first session, although the process may take several sessions. They also establish the rules of the mediation.

During each mediation session, the parties will take turns describing the dispute from their perspective. They may sit in a room with the other party, or they may be separated, in which case the mediator goes back and forth between them. The mediator works with each party to identify the key issues and helps the parties come up with solutions that may resolve the dispute. If a party has legal representation, the lawyer will attend the mediation, and the party can meet with him or her privately during the mediation.

Under California Law, mediation ends when the parties:

  • Enter into a written or oral settlement;
  • State, in writing, that the mediation is over; or
  • Do not communicate with the mediator for at least 10 days, although this timeframe can be extended or shortened.

Written and oral settlement agreements are voluntary. If the parties do not reach a resolution, they can proceed to litigation or choose another form of ADR.

What is the Mediator’s Role?

The mediator assists the parties in reaching a resolution. He or she does not decide which party is right or wrong. Instead, the mediator facilitates the negotiations between the parties and helps them come up with possible resolutions. The parties still retain control over whether and how they resolve their dispute.

What are the Benefits of Mediation?

Mediation is generally less expensive and faster than either arbitration or litigation. The parties retain control of the mediation process and the terms of their resolution. If the parties have an on-going business relationship, mediation may help them resolve their dispute without destroying that relationship.

A key benefit of mediation is that it is confidential. Under California law, any communication that takes place during mediation is confidential, with some limited exceptions. Unlike court proceedings, which generally involve public filings, the parties can keep private the nature of their dispute and its ultimate resolution.

Representation in Los Angeles County from an Experienced Mediation Lawyer

Skilled mediation and arbitration attorney Steve A. Buchwalter can effectively represent your interests in a Los Angeles County proceeding. He has guided clients through ADR and litigation in numerous commercial, employment, securities, and other disputes. Mr. Buchwalter can assess your case, discuss the forms of resolution available to you, and represent you in mediation. He is a skilled negotiator who can help you reach a favorable settlement or assert your interests in litigation if necessary. He serves clients in Santa Barbara, Beverly Hills, and throughout Southern California. For a consultation, call our office at 818-501-8987 or use our online form.