Friday, September 15, 2006

Why Prepare a Mediation Brief in a Civil Case?

A Mediation Brief or Mediation Statement is important for many reasons in civil cases.

A Mediation Brief is your opportunity to inform the mediator of all of the relevant facts, background and history of your case and of the parties themselves. It is your opportunity to explain your analysis of the law with your facts and to show the strengths of your case not only to the mediator, but also to your opponent.
The more information you give the mediator to work with, the better it is for all parties involved in the process. The mediator is neutral, but you don't want to start out by deliberately putting the mediator at a disadvantage in knowing less than the mediation participants about the dispute. The Mediation Brief should bring the mediator up to speed on your case in order to help the participants find and work toward solutions.

Although mediation is not an adversarial process, and there is far less "zealous advocating" in mediation than in the courtroom, it is still an opportunity to show your opponents that you have a serious case, that merits serious attention and, if the case does not settle in mediation, that your case has a strong chance of success in court. Give your opponents good reason to want to resolve the case through a negotiated resolution in mediation.

This is also your opportunity to present your case to an independent mediator for feedback on your strengths and weaknesses and to get confirmation of your own ideas of what the case might be worth from an independent source. Mediators vary in their approaches of whether or when to give their own views of the value of a case, but there is usually room for some discussion on the topic with a mediator that does not infringe on the neutrality of the mediator.

The process of drafting the mediation brief is helpful for you too; you can organize your thoughts and arguments and also recognize areas where more investigation, information or legal support is needed. When you are forced to put your case onto paper, you are talking yourself through your entire case, better preparing you to discuss the facts, damages, law and potential remedies in the mediation itself.

My suggestion: don't skip this important step!