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What is a Mediation?


You may have stumbled upon this blog because you are involved in a lawsuit and the next step is mediation. You may be an attorney new to the practice and mediation has been proposed. Either way, the purpose of this blog is to give you a bird’s eye view of understanding mediation.

To begin with, mediation is an opportunity for the parties involved in a lawsuit to settle the case without asking a judge or jury to decide for them. Mediation is a process. It requires give-and-take from both sides.

If you have attended a mediation with me, then you have heard me say mediation is one of the best days of your case. That is because everyone is generally attending mediation for the same reason: to get the case settled. However, do not ever expect to go to mediation and the other side to just roll over. That is not going to happen. A good outcome at mediation requires all sides to compromise.

Mediation requires back-and-forth and give-and-take from all sides. The mediator facilitates the mediation by talking to each side privately. The mediator may share an opinion. The mediator may make suggestions. But, the parties will decide how to control the give-and-take and the back-and-forth. But, it is oftentimes good to listen to the mediator when the mediator offers an opinion. This is because the mediator is the only person at the mediation who spends time with all parties and all attorneys participating in the mediation. And, the mediator has spent time studying each side’s position prior to the beginning of the mediation.

The goal is to reach a settlement. Otherwise, you would probably not be attending the mediation. Remember, a compromised settlement does not mean that you change your position with regard to how you feel about your case. A compromised settlement reached at mediation means that both sides found enough common ground, no matter how slight, where an agreement could be reached. Not all cases get settled at mediation. And, if it does not, you can still have your day in court.

You cannot predict the outcome of a trial. If you try a case 10 times, you will probably get 10 different results. At mediation, you have much more control over the process. Oftentimes, once you get into the process, you can get an idea of where each side is moving towards in terms of settlement.

A mentor once told me that “a good settlement beats a bad trial any day.” Typically, after a trial, at least one side is going to leave unhappy. Why not give mediation a shot and try to find that common ground?

Tommy Santel is a co-founding partner of Santel | Garner. Tommy is a former government prosecutor. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. Tommy’s practice areas include criminal defense and civil litigation.

This blog is made available by Santel | Garner for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a general overview of the law, not provide specific legal advice. By using this blog and website, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Santel | Garner . This blog and website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.