Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

Answer: Mediation fees vary by mediator and, often, by case type.

In a general civil case (Employment, Property, Breach of Contract, Personal Injury, etc.), a mediator is typically hired either for a half day or full day, depending on the complexity of the case.

A full day of civil mediation typically includes 8 hours of mediation time and 2 hours for preparation (reading mediation briefs) and travel. That's ten hours charged at the mediator's hourly rate.

That amount is usually paid up front because the mediator is essentially being reserved for the entire day and therefore cannot schedule any other matters that day. Whether the mediation lasts 6 hours or 12 hours, the mediator is compensated for just ten hours.

A half day of civil mediation typically includes 4 hours of mediation time and 1 hour for preparation (less complex issues= less preparation time for the mediator) and travel, which totals 5 hours.

Employment cases are almost always complex enough to require a full day's mediation and many mediators, including me, require that parties to Employment cases reserve (and pay for) the full day.

On the other hand, Family law cases can be so emotionally draining for the parties (and mediator), that most Family mediators, including me, schedule these in 4-hour sessions, with the understanding that multiple sessions are typically required unless there are very limited issues which can be resolved in one session. But there is generally no preparation time, and I typically charge just the 4 hours, unless significant additional time is spent with or for the parties beyond the 4 hours.

Mediator's Hourly Rates are based on their background and experience. A non-attorney mediator typically charges less than an attorney-mediator, who presumably has more legal knowledge and experience and therefore a higher hourly rate. A retired judge-mediator typically charges much more even than an attorney-mediator based on the knowledge and years of experience on the bench and in settlement conferences.

A retired judge-mediator I know at a large mediation firm charges $9,000 for a full day (about $900/hour). An attorney-mediator I know who has been a mediator for almost 20 years charges $5,000 for a full day (about $500/hour). As an attorney-mediator myself with substantial experience, my current rates are: $3,o00 for a full day, $1,500 for half day, or $300 per hour.

In case you're wondering, these amounts are far less than one party alone could expect to pay for lawyer's fee in a litigated, contested case. Mediation costs are typically split between the parties, resulting in less money spent to resolve the case for everyone involved.

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