Susan Z. Wright has facilitated over 1500 mediations to date with enormous success. She has been on the forefront of the mediation movement over the past decade and is the mediator of choice for many attorneys in North Texas. References will be provided upon request.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is one of many forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution. It is a private, confidential process in which a trained neutral professional assists disputing parties in communicating, negotiating, and exploring possible solutions to their conflict. The mediator does not render any decisions, nor act as judge, arbitrator, or legal advisor. Rather, she facilitates the exchange of information and settlement alternatives between parties, promoting understanding and resolution.
Mediation is characterized by a non-threatening, cooperative climate which sets the stage for constructive communication during the mediation and in the future, causing it to be an extensively used model for conflicts involving families and other ongoing relationships. The power of mediation lies in the fact that the parties control the outcome and do so in a private setting that allows free discussion, while reducing both the emotional and economic costs to the parties and their children.
The mediator establishes and enforces procedures which are fair and neutral, allowing all parties a chance to be heard in a safe setting, with an opportunity to express what is important to them in achieving final resolution. Mediation also provides an opportunity to express emotions, frustration, and fears that may have previously impeded resolution, and to address these underlying concerns in a controlled environment with all parties and counsel engaged in good faith negotiation. The mediator acts as an agent of reality, helping parties think through their claims, inquiring more deeply into what underlies their positions, offering creative options, and fashioning a settlement mutually satisfying to all parties. The parties must always mutually agree on a provision for it to be included in the settlement agreement. The final agreement is drafted upon successful completion of the mediation, signed by the parties and their attorneys, if present, and filed with the court. If parties do not agree, they continue along the litigation course, which ends in a trial.
The court may order parties to mediation or the parties/their attorneys may request it. Lawyers may or may not attend the mediation session. In most mediations, the parties themselves will have the opportunity to discuss the issues with one another and with the mediator. Occasionally, a party may be highly uncomfortable in the same room with the other party. In such cases, the parties remain in separate rooms, with the mediator facilitating the negotiations by shuttling between both with information, questions, and proposals. Because the disputants themselves fully participate, there is a high degree of client satisfaction with the settlement reached and with the mediation process itself. The length of a mediation depends upon the complexity of the issues, the communication skills and openness of the parties, and the skill and experience of the mediator. Many disputes can be resolved in one half day, while others may require eight or more hours.
State Bar of Texas, ADR Section Brochure, Dispute Resolution Texas Style, Second Edition, 1997.