New Jersey Mediation Lawyers
Mediation has become widely recognized as a cost efficient and expeditious alternative to trials, which involve substantial expense, risk, and exposure. Mediation also offers finality to disputes that may otherwise result in protracted and arduous litigation. Mediation — whether we are talking about resolving a family matter, a business dispute, or an employment issue — can produce the results you want with a significant savings of time, stress, and money as well.
At Aiello Harris, our mediation attorneys offer guidance and experienced legal services to clients in New Jersey who are seeking to resolve disputes through the mediation process. A partner of our firm with 15 years of litigation experience has been trained by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators (NJAPM), is an active member of that organization, and is on the New Jersey Superior Court’s Roster of court-approved mediators as an R. 1:40 mediator.
The Mediation Process
Mediation is a non-binding negotiation process that provides an opportunity for all parties to be fully heard and exchange views on disputed issues in a controlled environment. The parties and counsel will be asked to execute an agreement confirming that mediation is confidential and that the mediator cannot be called as a witness in any proceeding — whether at trial, arbitration or motion —except for the purpose of confirming the terms and conditions of a settlement consummated at mediation.
The mediator assists the parties in exploring all solutions, including non-monetary solutions. However, the mediator has no authority to impose an award or verdict. As the mediator, our partner will obtain thorough position statements from the parties, review relevant pleadings (if any), and listen closely to the parties’ positions in joint caucuses and individual meetings with the parties. Our mediation lawyer’s experience provides a knowledgeable and fresh perspective to the liability and/or damages components of your dispute and provides the neutral assistance necessary to bridge difficult disputes. We take these mediations seriously and expect the parties to approach the mediation with an open mind and be prepared to devote at least one entire day towards attempting to successfully resolve these matters through mediation.
Mediation may be the last time that the parties retain control of the outcome of the dispute. If the matter is taken to court or to an arbitrator, the final decision will be made by a third party. Mediation is a process of self-determination for the parties. No outside third party will impose a ruling. The power is with you, the participants.
Selection of a Mediator
The State of New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has implemented a statewide complementary dispute resolution program wherein R.1:40 court approved mediators, such as the partner in our firm, are appointed by the court to serve as mediators in their primary areas of practice. In AOC appointed mediations, mediators agree to waive their fees for the first three hours of preparation and mediation time, with at least one and one-half hour of free time being reserved for the mediation. Additionally, attorneys, individual parties, risk managers, general counsels and claims professionals may also select mediators outside of the court mandated process prior to or during litigation.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is successfully used for a variety of purposes. Mediation assists parties in identifying issues and provides the parties with an opportunity to express their views of the case. It also assists the parties in obtaining a solution to meet specific needs or interests and allows the parties an opportunity to explore settlement with a dramatic reduction in the cost of litigation and without the drain on productivity, loss of control over the outcome of the case and the delay occasioned by the nature of the litigation system.
Commencement of Mediation
Mediation can be initiated by the court through the AOC complementary dispute resolution program, by agreement of the parties, by either party making a motion to the court to order mediation, and in certain other circumstances, the court can order mediation. There are costs involved in mediation, and the parties usually share in the expense equally. We charge at the rate of $325 per hour. However, these expenses are minimal compared to the costs of depositions, expert fees and other costs incurred in litigation.
At the beginning of the formal mediation, the mediator explains their role, the confidential nature of the proceedings, any ground rules (e.g., no name calling), the benefits of mediation, and the procedural steps that will be followed (if any). Mediation, unlike a formal trial or arbitration, is informal and casual — thus allowing the clients to relax and focus on reasonable resolution options without the pressure and risks that come from litigation.
Resolution at Mediation
Once an agreement is reached, the mediator clarifies the terms of the agreement and makes sure all parties understand the terms of this agreement. The essential elements of the settlement are put in writing and signed by the parties. If litigation has been previously filed, formal settlement agreements, releases and dismissals are prepared, signed and filed with the court.
What happens if my case does not settle?
Statistics show that many cases settle during the mediation sessions. However, many others settle out of court shortly after the mediation or during follow-up sessions. Mediation is always a good investment of time and effort — regardless of whether or not you are able to avoid trial. However, if the family law matter does not resolve, the matter continues as if the mediation had not occurred and neither party is prejudiced.