mediation services are a process in which people involved in a legal dispute meet with a neutral third party who helps them reach their own negotiated settlement. It’s an alternative to going to court and letting a judge decide your case. It’s more likely to produce a settlement that both parties find satisfying, because they had a hand in crafting it with the mediator. It’s also usually quicker than a trial and less expensive.
When selecting a mediator, ask how much mediation experience they have. Then ask what type of mediation they’ve done most often, and in what types of cases. For example, some mediators specialize in family law cases; others might work mostly with business disputes or zoning issues. They might be on a court roster, or belong to a local, state, or national mediation organization.
If your dispute involves complex subject matter or a cultural or linguistic background, consider having co-mediators. This way, you can bring in a specialist in the subject area, or a professional with knowledge of different cultures and linguistics, while still maintaining confidentiality.
Ask the mediator about their philosophy and approach to mediation. How do they encourage collaboration and problem solving? Do they see the role of the mediator as more evaluative or facilitative? This will give you clues to whether they are a good fit for your situation. Also, ask how they deal with power dynamics in their mediations. Ultimately, you want someone who is well-versed in the laws and rules of your jurisdiction but can be flexible enough to help you come up with creative solutions that are unique to your case.