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The answers specified below apply to employment in the state of California.  We hope that you find the information useful, but it should not be used in place of consultation with a qualified attorney.  Should you have questions, please contact an attorney.

  1. What is mediation?  Mediation is an opportunity for parties involved in a dispute to meet with a neutral third party known as the mediator and try to reach a voluntary resolution of their own making.  The mediator facilitates the resolution but does not actually make a decision for the parties as to who is right or wrong.  In many instances, mediation may be the last chance for parties involved in a lawsuit to reach an agreement on their own before a judge or a jury make a decision for them.
  2. Am I required to mediate a dispute before I file a lawsuit?  It depends.  If you are a party to a written agreement which requires mediation prior to filing a lawsuit arising from a contract-related dispute, the answer is probably yes.  Unless the parties agree not to mediate, they are bound by the agreement.  Otherwise, the parties are not required to mediate a dispute before filing a lawsuit. 
  3. Am I required to hire an attorney to attend the mediation with me?  No.  There is no requirement that the parties have attorneys present in order to mediate their dispute.  However, the parties must be prepared to explain the nature of the dispute at the mediation.  If a lawsuit has been filed, the parties may wish to have their attorney present in order to answer any questions regarding applicable laws.
  4. What is the cost of mediation?  It depends.  Mediators generally charge an hourly rate to mediate a dispute.  However, some mediators prefer to charge a flat fee for a full day or half day mediation.  In comparison to the expense involved in filing a lawsuit and taking the case to trial, the cost of mediation is nominal.  The potential for resolving a dispute before sinking a great deal of time and money in litigation makes the prospect of resolving a dispute by mediation attractive to many.
  5. What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?  Mediation allows the parties to come to a mutually acceptable resolution with the help of a mediator.  In an arbitration, the parties present their case to a neutral third party called the arbitrator and the arbitrator decides the outcome of the dispute.  In other words, the decision-making process is taken out of the hands of the parties.  Arbitration may be either binding, which means that the arbitrators decision is final or non-binding which means that the arbitrator's decision is only advisory.