Lawyers often find themselves explaining the concept and process of mediation to clients and other people that have a need for a framework for dispute resolution other than the traditional adversary process. A traditional definition might be something like this:

Mediation is simply the name for a process that brings the parties to a dispute together with a neutral third party to identify and narrow disputed issues, develop options and consider settlement alternatives, in an effort to reach a consensual agreement that will accommodate the needs and interests of all. The Mediator is not empowered to impose terms on the parties, but rather facilitates communication, the exploration of alternatives, and encourages conciliation.

But if a picture is worth 1000 words, a great YouTube video is worth how many?

We can thank the Tennessee Association of Professional Mediators for Pigs, Pistols, and a Hanging: Mediation Meets the Hatfields and McCoys. This 3 minute video hits the high-points of what a mediation can offer, and features some fancy banjo-pickin’:

If you find yourself preparing for a mediation in a civil dispute, the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution has published a helpful Complex Civil Mediation pamphlet that answers a clients’ basic questions about Mediation and raises other questions that should be considered and discussed. Some of the more important questions include:

  • identifying your actual interests (as opposed to positions);
  • identifying your best alternative to a negotiated agreement;
  • identifying and considering the opposing party’s actual interests; and
  • considering whether the parties would or could have a continuing relationship after resolution of the dispute.

The Guide is available here.