By Peter Schroeter, Esq.
The recent surge in the popularity of mediation signifies a dramatic shift in how legal disputes are resolved. In the past, settlement efforts in the litigation arena were limited to direct negotiations through the attorneys usually at the end of the case after engaging in extensive, time consuming and very expensive adversarial litigation tactics. As litigation has become increasingly, sometimes prohibitively, expensive and an increasing number of courts are requiring mediation to accommodate an overburdened legal system, there is a growing demand for professional mediators who have the expertise and experience to evaluate cases and the skills to facilitate negotiations between adversarial parties to reach innovative solutions.
Court and statutory requirements imposing mediation on parties in litigation in Maine now exist in a wide variety of legal disputes, including:
- Superior Court litigation (real estate, business, personal injury, insurance and more)
- Employment (sexual harassment, whistleblower, discrimination, family medical leave)
- Residential construction
In addition, many types of contracts require mediation (or some other form of alternative dispute resolution like arbitration) prior to going to court, including:
- Business- to- consumer
- Commercial and residential construction
- Employment policies
- Residential real estate
Mediation helps to preserve relationships, maintains confidentiality, is more satisfying to the participants and is far less costly and time-consuming than going to court. Understanding what mediation is and knowing when and how to use it is critically important to risk management for any business that may encounter disputes involving customers, vendors or employees.
Peter Schroeter is an attorney with Shaheen & Gordon, P.A., and president of the Maine Association of Mediators