Keep lawsuits out of
your Company's closet
problems, like people with pain, want relief and they want it as quickly and
inexpensively as possible -Justice Warren E. Burger
By Mari Frank
Conflict is a natural part of human
interaction. But when those conflicts and misunderstandings become unmanageable, they can
lead to stressful and expensive litigation.
That's why our business society must learn to
cure conflicts for themselves. Enlisting the help of a mediator, especially one trained as
an attorney, is an excellent way to avoid wasted time and money in the courtroom. The
increasing use of mediators has shown the business community that business problems are
not necessarily legal problems.
The mediator's role is to provide conflicting
individuals with the tools, as well as the opportunity to reach a solution. By definition,
a mediator remains neutral to gain the trust of all the parties involved. Unlike a judge
who hands down a decision, the mediator guides the process as a neutral force and removes
the judgmental role. Opposing parties no longer need to defend their past actions or
present positions. The mediator can then help structure and facilitate the negotiations
needed to bring the parties to a resolution.
The mediator helps the various parties understand
their actual risks and liabilities-- something which becomes shrouded in anger or fear in
a courtroom situation. A mediator transforms ineffective bargaining into settlement
discussions where mutually-agreeable workable solutions are reached quickly and
There are several advantages to mediation. For
one, the parties retain control and have the power to form their own agreements. Their
agreements become binding only after all parties concur in writing.
Other advantages include: privacy and
confidentiality, flexibility in scheduling, informality, the opportunity to use neutral
reduced stress and conflict. Unlike the
frustration caused by the inefficiency of litigation, mediation expedites settlement by
focusing on problem solving.
It also explores positive options while clearing
up distorted impressions and false assumptions.
This makes all parties much more realistic and
interested in reaching a fair agreement.
The mediator inspires business owners and
managers to develop creative solutions-- much in the same way that those individuals
became successful business people in the first place. This is especially handy when
dealing with such issues as breach of contract, wrongful termination, partnership
dissolutions, patent violations, sexual harassment and other types, of employment
The result? Mutual gain for all parties. Business
reputations are protected and adversaries can once again do business free of the financial
burden and constraints of a lawsuit. Instead of fighting in the the courtroom, they can
flourish in the marketplace.