FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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What is mediation?


Mediation is a negotiated agreement between two or more parties with the assistance of a neutral third party (the mediator). It is a process of reaching an agreement with the help of someone who knows how to help parties resolve conflict in the best manner possible. Christensen & Associates can serve as that mediator when selected by opposing sides to listen to their strongly held claims and help reach a mutually acceptable settlement.


What is negotiation?


Negotiation is the communication and agreement process between opposing parties to a conflict without the help of a neutral third party facilitator, as in mediation. Hiring Christensen & Associates as negotiators to help achieve conflict resolution means we can negotiate on your behalf as your representative to get what you need to end the conflict. We are not neutral in that role. We become your advocate and seek to achieve your individual settlement objectives. We cannot be both a mediator and your personal negotiator in the same situation since a mediator must be strictly neutral. That is a choice you can make in determining the role you would like us to perform. We can assist and represent you in mediation conducted by another or if agreed upon with opposing sides, we can serve as the third party mediator. Both roles have their place and can help end conflict to your advantage.


What is arbitration?


Arbitration is privatized justice. In the case of a single arbiter, the parties select Christensen & Associates to hear the facts of the dispute and decide the matter much as a court would in a formal trial. In the case of a panel of arbiters, each side of the conflict selects one arbiter and those two arbiters select a third, chief arbiter. The arbitration decision can be either binding or non-binding, as the parties’ desire. If it is binding, that is the final resolution. In most states, that resolution is recognized by the judicial system as valid and conclusive. It is not appealed to a higher court. If it is non-binding, the parties can pursue other options such as mediation or going to trial but they have received a very important insight as to how others are likely to view their conflict. Arbitration, like mediation, tends to be much faster and less expensive than going to court.


What does a mediator do?


The mediator acts as a neutral third party facilitator to the negotiation. The ultimate decision making power and the ability to resolve the dispute is fully in the hands of the parties. The mediator has no decision making power. Their role is to ensure that the process of negotiation remains civil and open to positive options that move the matter forward towards a mutually acceptable resolution. The mediator works with both sides to get them to see past their strongly held positions and focus instead on outcomes and their combined best interests to restore peace and end the conflict. In that way, conflict can actually prove to be good if it encourages change and a willingness to consider a different perspective. The mediator is trained to help the parties come to an agreement so they can have a continuing relationship if desired. The mediator may discuss matters together with both the parties or separately as needed to best move the mediation forward. They are trained to see and recognize barriers to agreement and overcome them. In the end, their job is to facilitate the communication and agreement process and help the parties reach a mutually acceptable and beneficial conclusion.


Who goes to mediation?


Mediation is preferred and selected by many different individuals and companies and for all types of conflicts. Again, conflict by itself is not always bad. It just means a difference of opinion and perspective that needs to be explained, understood and resolved. Such differences can often lead to beneficial change and final agreement. Conflicts become extremely damaging when they result in contention that ruins relationships, both personal and business. One of the main drivers behind mediation is that it appeals to the best in people and allows for continued relationships in the future. Even if one party does not want to have any further contact with the other once a matter is settled, what about their clients, partners, co-workers, family, friends, and community? Virtually all relationships will continue in some form regardless the intentions of the parties. Thus, mediation rises above “winners” and “losers” in the conflict (as the judicial system provides) and achieves mutual agreement between opposing sides in a dispute. That can be a much better outcome, which both parties want to see accomplished.


What are the benefits of mediation over court or arbitration?


  • Much faster than going to court. Mediation can often lead to a resolution within hours.
  • Much less expensive than going to court. Attorney fees, discovery, expert witnesses, interpretation of business practices or personal life, all lead to high legal costs and span many motions of tedious trial preparations and building up a case that can push the parties even further apart. Mediation is typically a very small fraction of the cost of going to trial.
  • Continued relationships and preservation of mutual dignity, respect and peace of mind.
  • Better agreement and outcome. Unlike court where a jury or judge will decide the outcome of a conflict according to their interpretation and application of the facts and the law, mediation allows for a much more versatile and flexible agreement based on the needs and desires of the parties. Mediation can produce a resolution that meets the needs and interests of the conflicting parties better than other forms of dispute resolution.
  • Control. In mediation, the parties control the outcome. In arbitration or by going to court, the parties relinquish that control to someone else. They are forced to abide by the final decision that someone else imposes upon them, rather than determine the resolution themselves. Every conflict will come to a resolution somehow. It is better to have it decided based on the best interest of both parties and by mutual agreement.


What expertise does a mediator have?


The mediators at Christensen & Associates are specifically trained in mediation and have extensive background in negotiation as well as practical business and industry experience. They have received outstanding training at Pepperdine University School of Law and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. This is the top ranked program in the country. Our mediators have conducted hundreds of mediations in a wide range of fields and areas of practice including civil litigation, business dealings, lender-borrower relations, divorce and family law, all aspects of real estate, construction, land use and development, contracts, employment, personal injury and many other areas of conflict and dispute resolution.


Cost of mediation compared to court?


Mediation tends to be much less expensive than going to court. The average litigation case can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The most substantial matters can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees and litigation costs. Mediation can often resolve matters within a day or less. All disputes are different but mediation is known for its unique ability to resolve matters quicker and less expensively for all parties. The cost of mediation is usually agreed upon and split between the parties. It can be priced hourly or a fixed fee for half or all day services as may be needed. Christensen & Associates offer a free initial consultation to learn if we can be of assistance to you.


What services does Christensen & Associates provide?


Christensen & Associates offer full mediation, negotiation, and arbitration services. We do all case preparation and administration work, scheduling, process facilitation and needed follow-up for the agreements or decisions reached at the request of the parties or clients.


What accommodations can I expect from Christensen and Associates?


Christensen & Associates offer comfortable accommodations at each of our office locations in the Western States or we can come to your location. Either way, we make sure the setting is a comfortable environment that is conducive to the primary purpose of facilitating communication and final agreement to the fullest extent possible. Refreshments are provided as well as lodging when needed (at discounted rates based on availability) plus full technology support and professional staff.