What Might You Say When Asked About Mediation?
By Ray Chadwick


“Only two things can happen at trial and one of them is bad.”
A. Rowland Dye, Noted Trial Lawyer

Have you ever been asked to discuss why, when or how to mediate a case? Or been asked to make a presentation on mediation and its benefits? If so, what were some observations or recommendations you provided? I have been asked these questions by skeptical or inexperienced lawyers, and made presentations as well. This will be the first of several articles (not sure how many) that will discuss what I typically say.

What do lawyers who don’t know much about mediation or who have reservations about it often say? Something like, “It will be a waste of time,” or “It will be used to learn about how I will present my case at trial.” What might be said in response? I frequently begin with what Rowland Dye told me (see the above quote) when I was a fresh-faced lawyer confident that my clients were always right and overconfident that I could easily make a jury see the justness of their case. I follow this with an observation that in cases where I was the advocate in mediation, even if the case didn’t settle the day of mediation, the day was not wasted. More often than not, mediation set the stage for a settlement by causing parties to reevaluate their positions or by showing attorneys what further work was required for meaningful settlement negotiations. For those lawyers who fear that opposing counsel will use mediation only to preview their trial strategy and peek at their evidence, I assure them that I can count on one hand (and not use all my fingers) the number of cases where it appeared this was what mediation was being used for.

A bit of advice I pass on to skeptical attorneys is to have a positive attitude – or least not have a negative attitude – as they enter mediation. The experience is likely to lead to them to believe that mediation is the best way to help a client end a legal dispute or lawsuit.

So what might you point out to a lawyer who wants to know, or has doubts, about mediation? Some observations you may wish to make are:

  Mediation allows clients to control their own destiny, not have strangers in a jury box – whom lawyers and judges sometimes find unpredictable – decide what will happen.
  At the end of the day, when a mediation is successful, there is certainty of result because there are no appeals.
  Mediation eliminates risk (remember those unpredictable juries).
  Mediation saves clients money by reducing legal expenses.
  When a mediation settles a case, the client will not experience the stress and anxiety of trial (and neither will the lawyer).
  Although it may not produce a “win-win” result, mediation can achieve a “no-lose, no-lose” one.
  If a settlement is not reached in mediation, it sets the stage for further discussions that frequently result in a settlement.

NEXT TIME: What I think constitutes success at mediation and my recommendations for achieving it.


Ray is an Augusta based mediator & arbitrator.  Today he also serves as the Liaison Committee Chair to help facilitate communications with GODR.  He is past Chair of the Dispute Resolution Section, State Bar of Georgia and continues to serve on its Executive Committee. He also served as a member of the ADR Court Program Liaison Committee of the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution. 

Ray can be reached at 706-823-4250 or via email at rchadwick@chadwickmediation.com

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