Mediation is a process wherein the parties and their attorneys meet with a mutually selected, impartial and neutral person (the mediator, also called a neutral), who helps them negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution of their dispute.
I charge an hourly rate of $425.00 for all services provided, including, but not limited to, pre-mediation review of briefs, exhibits, and related materials, pre-mediation discussions with counsel, conducting mediation sessions, and post-mediation discussions with counsel where settlement negotiations are ongoing.
I do not require half-day, full-day or minimum hours commitments. I do not charge for travel time within San Luis Obispo County or northern Santa Barbara County (Santa Maria). For mediation held outside these areas, I charge $100.00 per hour for travel time. I do not charge administrative fees.
Unless the parties reach another arrangement in writing, my fees are shared equally by the parties and are billed accordingly upon completion of the mediation session. I require all parties and their counsel to sign a standard mediation agreement prior to commencement of the mediation session. I require all parties to pay a deposit of $425.00 to hold a mediation date, which will be applied to mediation services rendered. The deposit is refundable if the mediation is cancelled at least one (1) week before the reserved mediation date.
A mediator acts as a facilitator between opposing interests trying to find common ground by clarifying issues and breaking down barriers to communication, while moderating and guiding the process to avoid confrontation and ill will. The mediator does not decide what is fair or right, or who wins or loses. Nor does the mediator assess blame or give an opinion on the merits or chances of success if the case were to go to trial. The mediator will, however, seek concessions from each side toward the goal of achieving a compromise.
Mediation affords the parties an opportunity to decide their own fate rather than leaving the outcome in the hands of a judge, arbitrator, or jury. It keeps the decision-making power in the hands of the parties. A successful mediation avoids the risk, bother, uncertainty, stress, and financial burden of further litigation and trial.
Mediation is confidential and matters discussed there are not admissible in court. This confidentiality allows the parties to negotiate more openly and candidly, without worry that what they say can be used against them in trial if the case does not settle.
Even if mediation does not result in settlement, it can aid the participants by clarifying facts and defining and narrowing issues. It can help identify unnecessary parties and claims. Much can be gained through mediation, but nothing (other than a little time and a relatively modest expense) is lost by going through the process.
Generally, mediation is voluntary. Although judges sometimes order parties to mediate, or contracts may require it, the parties cannot be compelled to reach a settlement. A mediated settlement only occurs when the participants agree to the negotiated terms. The mediator is a facilitator, not a decider – the mediator cannot force a party to accept a settlement which the party does not wish to accept.
Litigation and trial are adversarial and competitive processes where already-strained relationships often worsen. Mediation affords an opportunity to de-escalate conflict, explore ways for parties to save face, and move toward restoring previously valued and productive relationships.
Also, mediation can bring certainty-of-outcome and closure to a lawsuit. If mediated settlement is achieved, it is documented in writing and signed by the parties, making it an enforceable agreement. It can bring contentious and expensive litigation to an abrupt, final, and satisfactory conclusion.