Here you will find answers to some frequently asked questions about business, organizational and workplace mediation. PLEASE NOTE: It is suggested that you read these questions and answers in the order presented.
Alternatively, you can also download a PDF with these questions from our Downloads page.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a method of dispute resolution which allows participants to resolve their own disputes rather than submit their issues to the courts, arbitrators or to procedures set by the E.E.O.C.
What Are the Advantages and Benefits of Mediation?
- Mediation is substantially less expensive than litigation.
- Mediation is less time-consuming. The duration of litigation can, at its worst, be measured in years whereas the duration of mediation is measured in hours.
- Conflicts created by an adversarial justice system can be eliminated. Rather than risk resolutions which can be imposed upon parties by the courts or other proceedings, parties can create their own agreements based upon their own notions of fairness.
- Mediation can resolve developing conflicts before they mature into a crisis – parties often attend mediation when they anticipate that issues may arise in the future.
- Mediation can be utilized in the “start up” stage of a business, the dissolution of a business or in succession planning to ensure that all parties are communicating effectively.
- Businesses can resolve issues between key employees, as well as preserve or enhance relationships with outside suppliers or other related businesses.
- Employees who are underperforming because of workplace or divorce related issues can have their issues resolved efficiently in order to again become productive in the workplace.
- Disputes between members of family owned businesses can be resolved peacefully without compromising family relationships.
- Communication and understanding between conflicted parties is enhanced and trust can be restored through the exploration of each party’s goals and concerns.
What Is a Mediator?
As a mediator, I act as a neutral professional who assists parties in resolving their disputes rather than risk outcomes which can be imposed upon them by the courts. Through the use of numerous psychologically based interventions and techniques, I help participants think creatively, avoid or overcome impasses and I help them to develop creative and comprehensive agreements which they find to be fundamentally fair by their own standards.
What Is Your Training?
In addition to my training as an attorney, I have many hundreds of hours of specific mediation training in the many models of mediation, the various psychologically based interventions and techniques which mediators use to assist clients achieve their agreements, as well as training in complex adaptive systems, creation of conflict resolution systems within and between organizations, conflict dynamics, medical and legal malpractice, neuro-linguistic programming, workplace, employee relations, employment discrimination, commercial disputes and commercial contracts.
Through my training, I have achieved the status of “Advanced Practitioner” from The Association for Conflict Resolution, the largest qualifying organization for mediators in The United States. In order to maintain my status, I must engage in continuing mediation education training on a bi-annual basis. In addition, I wholeheartedly abide by “The Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators”, a set of ethics and standards for mediators which has been approved by The Association for Conflict Resolution and which has been jointly approved by The American Bar Association and The American Arbitration Association.
In addition, my legal background is an important qualification to the areas that I mediate. I have been an attorney licensed to practice in The State of New York since 1984. Although my practice has concentrated in Mediation since 1992, my areas of practice have included the areas of business law, commercial contracts and commercial litigation. Obviously, my experience and training in these areas is quite helpful in assisting my clients in successfully resolving their disputes. For more information regarding my qualifications, please click on my “Background and Training” section of this website.
What Are The Cornerstones Of The Process?
The three cornerstones of the mediation process are:
- The absolute impartiality of the mediator; and
- The self determination of all issues by you, the client, in a way which is fair by your own standards; and
- Participants must make educated, informed choices.
Cornerstone #1: What Is Impartiality And How Does It Differ From Neutrality?
As a mediator, I am “neutral” as to your final outcome but I am “impartial” in conducting the process of mediating your dispute. The distinction is important. “Neutrality” means that I have no agenda and that I take no stake in your outcome. You create your own agreements.
The concept of “impartiality” relates to the actual process of mediation that leads to the creation of your final agreements. This concept, sometimes called “omnipartiality”, means that during your negotiations, I must be on both sides and on no side at the same time. This allows me to help each of you brainstorm, develop your options and ultimately assist you in resolving your conflicts.
Cornerstone #2: What Is Self Determination?
According the Standard I of The Model Standards of Conduct For Mediators, adopted by the Association for Conflict Resolution and approved by the American Bar Association and the American Arbitration Association, “Self Determination is the act of coming to a voluntary, uncoerced decision in which each party makes free and informed choices as to process and outcome.” Essentially, you are in control of the decision making process.
Cornerstone #3: Informed Decision Making: Are Lawyers Necessary To The Process?
In most mediation cases, lawyers play an important but limited role. As your mediator, I take no stake in your outcome but I take a strong stake in ensuring that you make educated choices; thus, it is important for you to understand all of the intricacies that go into achieving a comprehensive settlement, including how the law might apply to your situation. It is unethical as a matter of law for one attorney to give legal advice to both parties without creating a “conflict of interest”. An attorney can be disciplined by The Bar Association for such conduct.
It is thus my strong recommendation that each party to the mediation process consult with an attorney of his/her own choosing either prior to or shortly after commencing the mediation process. Although attorneys are not present in the process, they will give you independent legal advice about the topics you must discuss in mediation. Your attorneys will then be asked to review your final mediated agreement to ensure that you understand the legal ramifications of the choices you have made. Finally, they will prepare the legal documentation necessary to achieve your goals. Remember, the decisions that you make in mediation can, in many cases, have significant consequences regarding the members of your organization or regarding your business relationships. Having a trusted, objective advisor will the participants in mediation the knowledge necessary to make comfortable, meaningful and long lasting choices.
What About The Use Of Other Professionals?
My clients do not necessarily limit themselves to speaking with attorneys in order to make informed choices. Depending upon the issues you bring to the table, you may want to speak with other professionals in order to obtain the information necessary to make informed choices. I have had clients consult with accountants, financial advisors, business consultants, psychologists, human resource advisors and appraisers, to name a few.
What Is The Process?
In workplace and business related mediation, I design mediation models specific to the issues presented. Depending upon circumstances, I will have to determine the effectiveness of mediating on site or in my office. In addition, I must determine the frequency of the sessions, which can run from one to several hours. In some instances, I will require the submission of written statements prior to the first session.
I ensure that all topics which must be considered are discussed. I use many psychologically based interventions and techniques to have my clients “shift” from “positional bargaining”, (“win-lose” negotiation) to “interest based negotiation” (“win-win” negotiation). Creative solutions are achieved by exploring mutually advantageous models which serve the interests of all parties. If the process requires more than one session, I will advise the parties of what we will be covering in the next session and I will tell them how to prepare for the next meeting.
What Is The Final Product?
At the end of the process, I will prepare a “Memorandum of Understanding” containing all of the specific terms of your agreement. This is not a legally binding document. In some instances, each client will have their Memorandum reviewed by an attorney in order to understand the legal ramifications of the choices that have been made. If legal documents are required, the attorneys will prepare the appropriate paperwork necessary to reflect the parties’ agreements.
In many instances, however, the agreements contained in the Memorandum are simply implemented by the participants.
Where Do You Perform Your Services?
Depending upon the circumstances presented by each case, I will either conduct the mediation on your site or I will conduct the mediation in either my Albany, New York offices or at my Clifton Park, New York offices.
When I travel to locations outside of the greater Albany, New York/Saratoga Springs, New York area, special arrangements must be made for my travel, lodging and for securing an appropriate location for conducting the mediation. With appropriate advance notice, I can be available for travel to any location in the United States.
Will You Give A Presentation About Mediation To My Organization?
I truly enjoy public speaking! If you would like me to educate the members of your organization about the advantages and benefits of mediation, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will tailor a presentation to meet your specific needs.